Sunday, September 3, 2017

Back to School

During the second week in August the Texas State Historical Association sponsored two conferences in its Exploring Texas Workshop Series. Designed to bring content material to Texas history teachers, these two conferences were scheduled to be of assistance on the eve of the beginning of fall classes. Charles Nugent, Director of Adult Education Programs for the TSHA, was even busier than usual in lining up speakers and organizing activities for three days of conferences in two locations within a four-day period.
Fred Cooper, a fellow presenter who has a new book which features several eight-minute classroom plays for Texas history.

The week's first conference was held on Monday and Tuesday, August 7 and 8, at the Region 10 Education Service Center in Richardson. Region 10 co-sponsored the conference, which covered the period Prehistory to 1835. More than 100 teachers signed up for the conference, and Charles Nugent assembled presenters for more than 30 breakout sessions and addresses to the assembled group. 

I was asked to lead off the conference with a keynote address I called, "Dios y Tejas: The Spanish in Texas." My program was scheduled from 8:30 to 10:00 on Monday morning, and I brought a number of props. I drove to Richardson from Carthage on Sunday afternoon, and I went to the Region 10 Education Center, because Charles Nugent had arranged for the facility to be opened that evening for those of us who needed an early setup opportunity. On Monday morning I arrived about eight o'clock and, already prepared, I had time to meet with the teachers as they entered the room. I found out what schools they were from and how long they had been teaching.

I was delighted with the topic I was assigned. At the start of every semester at Panola College I lectured at length about the Spanish in Texas. For three-fifths of recorded Texas history, from the early 1500s to the early 1800s, principal control of Texas was in the hands of Spain. The largest battle ever fought on Texas soil - the Battle of Medina - was won by a Spanish army. From conquistadores to Franciscan missionaries, from longhorn cattle to hard-riding vaqueros, from Catholicism to the Spanish language, the Spanish made an indelible imprint on the rich history and culture - and future - of the Lone Star State.

I drove home after my talk, because I had only two days to prepare for my next conference, in Austin at the Lorenzo de Zavalla Texas State Archives and Library Building. Every time I approach the stately structure I take time to read the bold inscription on the front of the building. From the first Texas State Constitution:

        All Political Power is inherent in the People and all Free Governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their benefit.
State Archives Building

I also enjoy entering the building in the shadow of the statue of Texas icon Sam Houston, clad in his Masonic regalia.

On several occasions in the past I had researched at the State Archives, but I had never presented a program there. On the second floor is an education suite which accommodated our group. I was scheduled to speak at one o'clock, and I arrived in time to share a box lunch which Charles Nugent had arranged. A grant from Humanities Texas supported this one-day conference, which was co-sponsored by the TSHA, the General Land Office of Texas, the Texas State Archives and Library, and the Texas Capitol Visitor Center.   

Left to Right: Buck Cole, General Land Office; Kyle Schlafey, Texas Capitol Visitors Center; Charles Nugent, TSHA

My topic was "The Texas Revolution," always an exciting subject to share with teachers and students. I brought poster/diagrams, coonskin caps, and Bowie knives, and I managed to squeeze the subject into one hour - barely. I wished the teachers well during the coming school year, and for the second time in three days I headed toward Carthage. 


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