Introduction by Ann Hunt
Sixth Grade Teacher at West Pawlet and Mettawee Community School
When I accepted the position of sixth grade teacher five days before school started in 1980 I didn’t even know where the town of Pawlet was located. Twenty years later when I retired, I not only knew many people in Pawlet I also knew a lot about the town’s history. This was mainly because I had read over three hundred Pawlet History Essays and helped my students research their topics. The last two years I taught at Mettawee Community School I also began to learn about the history of Rupert.
I was always grateful to the Pawlett Historical Society for getting the essay project started and assuring the sixth graders that they were doing a service to their town by researching and recording its history. As I look over the list of people who were the subjects of essays, I know many of them are no longer with us and the information they gave the students might not otherwise have been written down. The list of places and other subjects that have been written about are impressive. I am looking forward to reading and rereading the essays and watching the videos.
See the projects
More about the Pawlett Historical Society Brenda Smith 6th Grade Memorial Project
This project has some history of its own. The Pawlett Historical Society initiated it in 1982 and ever since, the sixth graders of this community have researched and written reports about a place, a person, or some other aspect of local history. When Mettawee Community School was built, the Rupert students joined in the project, writing about their town.
In 2014 we renamed this award to honor Brenda Smith, a member of our group who passed away after a long illness. Brenda was passionate about learning, having been a teacher for many years in Granville. Her commitment to young people, community, and social justice was clear to all who knew her.
Also in 2014 we started experimenting with the format of the project by having the students research an artifact from our collection. Students measured, described, researched, and photographed or drew their object. Then they chose whether to write a report about it or to write a story which included the artifact. They also presented to visiting community members.
In 2015 students interviewed and videotaped members of the community about growing up in Pawlet. This intergenerational connection was a fascinating way for the Mettawee sixth graders to learn history directly from people in their town. Each year our team works with the teachers to tailor a project which fits their educational needs.