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Archive for Monday, April 19, 2004

Teacher mines regional history

Lessons include grandma’s march

April 19, 2004

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— Linda O'Nelio Knoll teaches a history that her grandmother helped to make.

Knoll's work earned her the Kansas National Education Assn.'s Civil Rights and Humanities Award, which was presented Sunday in Topeka by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

"We applaud your efforts for further understanding and appreciation of the struggles of the immigrant miners of southeast Kansas and the courage of the women who won rights for them," KNEA President Christy Levings wrote in inviting Knoll to the ceremony. "Your work is an example of excellence in teaching as well as an example of excellence in the presentation of an important part of Kansas history."

Knoll teaches gifted education at Pittsburg Middle School and Girard High School and is the gifted education coordinator for a southeast Kansas regional cooperative.

She received the award for her work with students to create a play about the "Amazon Army," a group of coal miners' wives who marched to protest working conditions in the mines of southeast Kansas.

Knoll's grandmother Maggie Bellezza O'Nelio marched with the group.

Students also worked with Lawrence artist Wayne Wildcat to create a mural, now on display at the Pittsburg Public Library, about the Amazon army.

Winning the award "made me feel just humbled," Knoll said.

The history of immigrants and mining in southeast Kansas continues to draw attention, Knoll said.

The Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush has received two new grants for oral history projects. And in Pittsburg, work continues to create Immigrant Park and the Miners Memorial to honor the men and women who built Pittsburg and other area towns.

Those projects help get even more teachers interested in teaching the region's history, Knoll said.

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