Three Virginia Tech students have researched, co-authored, and published a local history book, now in use by Montgomery County fifth graders. 

“Edgar A. Long: Principal of Christiansburg Institute” was written by Erin Lord, Mallary Orrison, and Katie Goins, under the guidance of Thomas Ewing, associate professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. The 40-page biography describes Long’s “life devoted to education” and includes carefully selected illustrations, instructional sidebars, and a glossary.

Lord of Woodbridge, Va., a master’s candidate in the Department of History and the School of Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, served as research director for the project.

“I think the most challenging component was the continuous revisions we made to ensure the book suited the fifth grade audience,” said Lord. “It was a balance between ensuring we wrote at an appropriate reading level while including teaching tools within the text.”

The biography addresses Standards of Learning (SOL) curriculum including Reconstruction, the era of Christiansburg Institute’s founding, and civil rights, which was the era in which the institute was closed.

“The three students who wrote this book were given a good chance to see how their research could result in a publication that serves the needs of teachers and students, and also promotes understanding of an important regional institution,” said Ewing, who also serves as associate dean for graduate studies and research in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Orrison of Leesburg, Va., completed her bachelor’s degree in history in May and is now enrolled as a master’s student in the School of Education. Goins of Oak Hill, Va., is a senior with a double major in history and in biology, which is in the College of Science. Both received University Honors credit for their work on the project.

April Baker of Fort Defiance, Va., who earned her bachelor’s degree in English last May, designed the page layouts and the cover for the biography, along with her faculty mentor from the Department of English, Jennifer Mooney. In addition, the Virginia Tech students collaborated with local elementary school teachers and librarians, the social studies supervisor for Montgomery County Public Schools, the staff at Christiansburg Institute, and various other faculty members and historians.

Funds for printing the book were provided by the Department of History, the Office of the Vice President for Outreach and International Affairs, and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Diversity Committee. Copies of the book have been distributed to each elementary school in Montgomery County, to Christiansburg Institute, to public and academic libraries in the region, and to the participants in the Virginia Tech–Christiansburg Institute collaboration.



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