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Photo contributed by Chris McKeever / The George R. Johnson Family Foundation donates a grant to the 6th Cavalry Museum in Fort Oglethorpe. Pictured on a tour of the museum are, from left, museum board President Durinda Cheek, volunteer Ron Davis, George R. Johnson Family Foundation Executive Director Janice Johnson Wilson and museum volunteer Bob Dial.

For years, the 6th Cavalry Museum in Fort Oglethorpe has been headed by a lone staff member, Executive Director Chris McKeever.

A lot goes into running a museum — since joining, she's had to rely on volunteers to help organize events and fundraisers, give tours of the museum and help build and design new exhibits or displays. But if McKeever isn't in or has other obligations that day, the museum is closed.

In March, the museum adopted a new strategic plan to grow both the museum and its outreach in the community. Since then, McKeever has been working with various foundations to help fund this mission.

With the help of a three-year grant from the Cleveland, Tennessee-based George R. Johnson Family Foundation, the museum now has the funding to hire a part-time program coordinator.

Among the list of tasks the program coordinator will assist McKeever with are designing museum workshops and lectures, overseeing traveling exhibits and applying for museum- and programming-related grants.

The museum has always had a mission to work with area schools, McKeever said, so the program coordinator will also facilitate group tours and visits, work on school-focused programs and materials for teachers to use in their classroom, and grow the number of school field trips to the museum.

The program coordinator will specifically work on curriculums geared toward eighth-graders, high school students and Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets, said McKeever.

The coordinator will also help in establishing new after-school and summer camp programs.

In creating all its education programs, the museum utilizes goals set by the Social Studies Georgia Standards of Excellence, which teachers can fold into their classrooms and visits, McKeever said.

McKeever said she met George Johnson over 30 years ago at a March of Dimes benefit, and his daughter, Janice Wilson, is now the executive director of her father's namesake foundation.

Wilson, who is a retired teacher, also expressed expanding the museum's Remembering Our Heroes school day, which allows students to learn the history of World War II outside of the classroom through living history demonstrations, said McKeever.

The program benefits over 1,000 middle school students each year, but McKeever said that due to its popularity, they've had to turn away schools year after year.

This year, on Saturday, Oct. 26, the museum is hosting an additional day of Remembering Our Heroes open to all in the community, giving more the chance to see re-enactments and interact with living historians, who agreed to stay an extra day, McKeever said.

Email Sabrina Bodon at sbodon@timesfreepress.com.

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