Recently, eighth-grade Language Arts students practiced their research writing skills by gathering information about a local geographical and historical landmark, the Old Netherwood Quarry. The Old Netherwood Quarry is one of fifteen historic quarries located south of the James River in the Richmond and Bon Air areas. Many of Richmond’s notable buildings and homes were built using stone from this and other quarries throughout Richmond. Granite from this quarry by Riverside Drive, near the 42nd Street entrance to the park system, was shipped as far north as New York during the mid-nineteenth century. Students have researched quarrying in the area using local sources, visiting the site itself, and interviewing owners of a neighborhood home built using granite from the Old Netherwood Quarry. Students have enjoyed making connections through real world experiences, as well as understanding how local history, science, and literature are all connected.
This endeavor is part of a greater effort to further implement place-based educational practices at the school. Place-based education connects learning to communities and the world around us. It is an approach to learning that takes advantage of geography to create authentic, meaningful, and engaging experiences for students, across the curriculum. Good Shepherd is located in an ideal setting for place-based education, as the Forest Hill Neighborhood is rich with history and natural beauty. Students at Good Shepherd regularly participate in Outdoor Education as a class, but other core classes take advantage of our unique place on the map to further enhance the curriculum. Students have studied the geology, history, and lore of our neighborhood. They have built relationships with neighbors, helped keep the park clean by picking up litter, and researched neighborhood landmarks such as the mysterious Forest Hill Park pyramid. Ultimately, these learning experiences foster a valuable, ongoing relationship with the community.