The students and faculty of Louis M. Klein Middle School welcomed History’s Alive storyteller Sheila Arnold. Dr. Martin Luther King famously said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” and Sheila Arnold has made it her life’s work to keep the legacies of courageous figures alive.
Ms. Arnold gave two presentations – one to the 8th grade class and one to the 7th grade class on two important historical figures. She presented the stories of Daisy Bates and Oney Judge for roughly a half hour and then conducted a question and answer period with the LMK students, both in character and out. Ms. Arnold’s performances continue to keep these characters alive and identifiable as students read the historical non-fiction books surrounding the lives of these extraordinary people.
For the 8th graders, Ms. Arnold portrayed Daisy Bates, the Arkansas NAACP President, who was the backbone of the “Little Rock Nine.” Ms. Arnold embodied this character and showed the students both the strength of Daisy Bates and the flaws. Daisy Bates was determined to integrate the Little Rock, Arkansas public schools and her experience and the severe opposition that she and the nine students and their families faced gave the LMK students a different perspective of the historical events.
Ms. Arnold also brought students on stage and as the Daisy Bates character imparted a visual of the explanation of “separate but equal” that left students questioning the definition of equal.
For the 7th graders, Ms. Arnold personified Oney Judge, an 18th century Free Woman who was at one point the personal maidservant to Martha Washington. Oney Judge was the maidservant from the time George Washington was elected to attend the Continental Congress until the end of his 2nd term of presidency. Oney had the infamous reputation of being one of the ones that "ran away" from Philadelphia, PA right before the end of President Washington's term as President.
The LMK students were introduced to Oney in the latter parts of her life where she talks about her life with the Washingtons, her home life and upbringing, her run for freedom, her attempt to negotiate with the first President of the United States and her new life as a Free Negro.Sheila Arnold currently resides in Hampton, VA. Through History’s Alive! Ms. Arnold has given over 600 presentations for schools, churches, professional organizations and museums, in 26 states, according to her website. Previously, Ms. Arnold has worked as a Social Worker with aggressive adolescents having emotional problems, a Hampton City Schools Substitute Teacher and led a Drama Ministry. She often uses her creative talents to do creative writing and/or drama workshops with children and teens, and has been called on to be a motivational speaker for high school students and young adults on many occasions.