ALBA reaches out to teachers in four states, from Florida to Illinois

September 9, 2014
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Participants and faculty of the 2014 ALBA Institute in Tampa.

Participants and faculty of the 2014 ALBA Institute in Tampa.

ALBA’s Institute staff has a busy fall, with workshops lined up in Tampa, Florida; Bloomington, Illinois; New York City; and Bergen County, New Jersey. On August 13, ALBA led a professional development day for social studies teachers in Tampa’s Hillsborough County School District, the third largest in Florida and eighth largest in the country. 

Fraser Ottanelli, Vice Chair of ALBA and Professor of History at the University of Southern Florida, worked with veteran teacher Robert Alicea and ALBA’s Sebastiaan Faber to introduce teachers of U.S. History, World History, Government, and Psychology to the Lincoln Brigade and the Spanish Civil War.

“The Spanish Civil War and the story of the Lincoln Brigade form the hub of a giant wheel with dozens of curricular spokes that go far beyond the 1930s,” Alicea said. “It provides a fascinating window into issues and topics as diverse as the Great Depression, ideology, the rise of fascism, the Cold War, race, civil rights, the Vietnam war, feminism, memory, activism, citizenship, ethics, and human rights.”

After screening documentary footage from The Good Fight, teachers drew on ALBA’s anthology of primary source materials—letters, speeches, posters, and photographs from the Archive—to create compelling lesson plans for their hundreds of high school students. 

Mobilized Spanish immigrants in Tampa, Florida. Reproduced in Stars for Spain: La guerra civil española en los Estados Unidos.

Mobilized Spanish immigrants in Tampa, Florida. Reproduced in Stars for Spain: La guerra civil española en los Estados Unidos.

Francie Grossman, a veteran teacher in the county, revealed her personal connection to the Spanish Civil War. “My mother was a native American who was taken from her parents and raised in foster care,” she said, “and my father, Dr. Leo Grossman, was a bacteriologist from Brooklyn whose family had fled from the Prussian Army in 1898, and who was 18 when the Civil War broke out in Spain. He was determined to join the Lincoln Brigade, but in the end was not able to go to Spain. After World War II he worked hard to get Jewish refugees from Europe to the United States.”

This was ALBA’s fifth institute in Tampa—a historical center of Spanish immigration and labor activism, from which more than two dozen volunteers left to join the fight against fascism in Spain. The city’s Centro Asturiano, founded exactly 100 years ago, features a monument in their memory.

“My teachers are becoming quite familiar with the new Common Core benchmarks,” said Dennis Holt, district supervisor of secondary social studies. “What we are now desperate for is good content, particularly well-selected primary source materials. And that is precisely what ALBA provides us with.”

For more information about ALBA’s institutes, or for a range of primary materials and Common Core-aligned lesson plans, visit ALBA’s teacher resource website at resources.alba-valb.org.

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