Why ‘Coal Cracker Classroom’?
I teach and live in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania in a small town with a population somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000. Where I live and teach is in America, no doubt. However, those of us here in the northeast region of Pennsylvania, the “Coal Region,” have a culture, language, and work ethic all of our own. Our ancestors
were some of the hardest working coal miners. Consider the following a short lesson in the history of Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania and its rich culture and fantastic people (Lest you not forget, I am a Social Studies teacher above all else).
During the heart of the Industrial Era, our population was well more than double that and our town thrived on the Anthracite Coal Region mining industry. Mount Carmel is also well known for rich culture and heritage and has been referred to at times as The City of Churches given its once functioning twenty, beautiful churches.
Mount Carmel also served as the birth place of one of the original Edison Illuminating Companies in 1883, where the first isolated electrical plant in the world was established. Mt. Carmel was the first town lighted exclusively by electricity. Thomas Edison experimented much locally with his early electricity work and claimed, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
As I continue on my journey of “not failing,” I am committed to try as many ways as possible to improve the educational experience of my students even if, I too, must exhaust 10,000 things that do not work in my classroom for my students. I do my best to continue the long-withstanding mining tradition of our region by cultivating the minds of my students and help them realize their full potential.
Among my students are many diamonds. If you are a teacher, then you know, these are the precious gems that are intrinsically motivated, on top of their game and highly successful. At first thought, you may assume, then, that the coal are the ‘undesirables.’ Lest we not forget that coal is a powerful energy source and a viable natural resource. It is coal that fuels so very many other important endeavors. Like coal, many of my students have the power and ability to be great. I’ve made it my quest to show those students of what they are capable and that with some ‘mining’ they, too, can compete in an ever-changing global world.