Teacher Brings Ancient Footsteps of Hopewell to Ross School  


Alicia Schordine, fourth grade teacher and cultural history coordinator at Ross Lower School, travelled to Ohio this past summer to take part in a program called “Following in Ancient Footsteps: The Hopewell in Ohio.” Alicia received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to participate in the studies at sacred sites including Newark Earthworks, Seip Mound, Serpent Mound, and Hopewell Culture National Historical Park.

Ross’s fourth grade curriculum includes the study of early settlements and Native American culture, and Alicia is looking forward to sharing the information she learned, photos, and artifacts with her students to enrich their classroom experience.

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Alicia said an impactful and spiritual part of the trip was examining the ancient mound-building societies through the remains, structures, and artifacts at the sites. The different perspectives offered by members of her group, which included expert archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, educators, and religious ministers, created a diverse learning experience for everyone.

“An important part of the curriculum at Ross includes providing students with opportunities to experience and ‘live’ the lives of the subjects of their studies,” Alicia said. Because the fourth graders explore mound-building as central to the evolution of ancient Native American tribes, her new knowledge will enable her to create special connections to the Hopewell culture. She brought back replicas of artifacts, videos, and photographs to help bring Ross students’ studies to life.

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This passion to constantly enrich the educational experience for her students is nothing new. Alicia is always looking for ways to improve as an educator and to create fun and interactive lessons that engage teachers, students, and the community in the learning process.

In June, she organized the Green Corn Festival at the Lower School with members of the Shinnecock Nation. “It was a beautiful culmination of our studies of the Native American tribes and culture and collaboration with the Shinnecock Nation on our Native American garden,” she said.

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She also participated in National Geographic’s Genographic Project and an online course through Oxford University in England titled “Ritual and Religion in Prehistory.”

Through her trips and collaborations, Alicia said, she has gained access to international resources that continue to enhance the Lower School curriculum and experiences, such as documents on burial rituals. The experiences are also important to her personally, and offer opportunities to “replenish” herself and satisfy professional curiosity as a learner and educator.