Lower Merion High School social studies teacher Susan Naples and librarian Pam McGlone have collaborated for more than 20 years designing research projects using non-fiction books and online resources to enhance students' understanding of historical eras and movements within the social studies curriculum. Their most recent literacy project centered on a study of the Civil Rights Movement in conjunction with a close reading and exploration of Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose.
While studying the Civil Rights Movement in class, eleventh grade students also read about Colvin, a fifteen-year-old African-American girl who was arrested after refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 – nine months before Rosa Parks was arrested for the same refusal. Although it was the later arrest of Parks that became the catalyst for organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it was Colvin's Supreme Court testimony that brought a legal end to the unconstitutional practice of enforcing segregated seating on any bus within the United States.
The literacy project provided the opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding of the political, social and emotional hardships endured by African-American citizens, particularly in the south, during the 1950s. Students worked collaboratively to create artwork and writing to express their many thoughts and feelings about the book, which are currently on display at LMHS to help others learn about and gain a better appreciation for Claudette Colvin and the Civil Rights Movement.