TROY — Third grade students at Cookson Elementary got to experience Troy’s history during the school day Wednesday.
Assistant with the Troy-Miami County Public Library Local History Library Sandy Gurklies brought artifacts with her to show the students what life in Troy was like during the pioneer era.
She explained how she likes to teach about history as though she were telling a story.
“I did it in the form of a timeline so they’d have some concept of time,” she said. “I actually am cleaning out my Aunt Peggy’s house, since she is moving, so I told it from the standpoint of going through her stuff and finding these old clothes and bread bowls.”
Some of her items included old bread bowls and pictures of buildings in downtown Troy that the students could match to a year on the timeline.
Gurklies also wore clothes from Troy’s early days. Her clothes were borrowed from local historians Terry and Karen Purke and included a shift, which she described as looking like a muslin nightgown, and a petticoat skirt with a drawstring, described as looking like a gigantic pillowcase.
“Over top of the top is a bed jacket, which is basically a jacket that didn’t have buttons,” Gurklies explained. “It was pinned, and there was a scarf that went over the shoulders to protect against getting dirty and sunburn.”
Her main goal is to show the students how history can be fun if made personal. She learned her great-grandfather fought in the Civil War and that she has a cousin in her family’s native Ireland. The history of their family is what motivated Gurklies to sign her granddaughter up for Irish dance.
“If you do your own family history, history becomes important to you,” she said.
Cookson Elementary third grade teacher Shelley Stewart reached out to the Troy Historical Society, which paired her with Gurklies.
Stewart explained that she was new to Troy and did not know the history of the city, but knew there would be some pictures and stories available from the historical society, which would help her and the students learn and meet the Common Core goals of students knowing about their communities and how far they’ve come.
She also praised Gruklies’ presentation and teaching style.
“I know we were short on time, but I thought she talked about the history really well,” Stewart said. “She used to be a teacher and she did a great job. She took it upon herself to look up the curriculum of what students in Ohio need to know and she based her presentation on that.”