TVA retirees tout agency's legacy

TVA retirees tout agency's legacy

April 27th, 2013 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

U.S. history teacher Renee Hunt uses the Bicentennial Volunteers Inc. curriculum in class Friday at Ooltewah High School.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.


• The entire curriculum can be downloaded free at

A locally written social studies curriculum, Currents of Change, tells the story of the transformation of the Tennessee Valley by the TVA and is being used in high school classrooms throughout Hamilton County.

Tennessee Valley Authority retirees who have personally lived this history are the ones who funded the creation of this curriculum through the nonprofit Bicentennial Volunteers Inc.

The curriculum's creation was inspired by the 2009 documentary the group sponsored, "Built for the People," which tells the story of TVA's impact on the valley.

Four years ago they began to have the film adapted into an interactive social studies curriculum that currently serves as a regionally focused approach to history in many local classrooms.

"We looked what state curriculum standards were and created this curriculum to fit into what teachers are already doing," said Jennifer Johnson, educational consultant at the volunteer group.

Group members brainstormed with some Hamilton County teachers on how to make the curriculum accessible and decided to create a website where the entire curriculum and additional resources can be freely used and downloaded.

Two lesson plans have been created: Out of the Darkness, which deals with Roosevelt's TVA Act; and Tennessee Valley and the War Effort, which teaches about TVA's dam creation and its role in helping build airplanes in World War II.

"The curriculum allows you to pick and choose what is most applicable to the course and subject matter you are teaching," said Renee Hunt, a social studies teacher at Ooltewah High School.

"Students love getting to see something that is relevant to them," Hunt said. "This curriculum gives me the platform to help the students relate to what we are learning, as they love seeing things that are so close to them."

The curriculum relies on pictures, video and primary sources to reinforce the history being taught.

"The oral histories and personal accounts of people who were impacted by TVA [are] so valuable for our students to see and understand," Hunt said.

"The curriculum is easily accessible through classroom technology and the teacher does not need to accumulate anything, as it is all there," Johnson said.

Currents of Change has been offered free to every social studies teacher in Tennessee. Its use is not mandated.

She said that more than 200 teachers already have downloaded the active board lesson from the website, and BVI hopes that number will continue to increase.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at news@times