Pelham Teachers travel to Europe to learn more about Alabama

Published 4:26 pm Monday, July 17, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Mrs. Whitney Pruitt and Mrs. Kristi Plemons of Pelham Elementary have just started a journey through Wales and Scotland. Their trip is being paid for by Fund For Teachers, a nonprofit organization that gives funding to help teachers develop skills and knowledge.

Pruitt and Plemons are using their trip to Europe to see more than just the sites; specifically, they are using it to learn more about the history of coal mining in Wales and Scotland. They are learning about how many of those miners would later immigrate to places like Alabama and the impact they had on parts of the state like Pelham. 

Much of the early industry in the greater Shelby and Jefferson county areas came from mining materials like coal and iron, then using them to produce steel. 

Many of these miners were immigrants from the United Kingdom who came to the mines of Alabama to escape poorer working conditions in countries like Wales and Scotland.

Pruitt and Plemons are spending their time abroad learning more about the working conditions that drove miners to relocate to Alabama. They are already discussing how to incorporate that information into new classroom projects and activities. 

So far, Plemons and Pruitt have spent most of their time in Wales. They have been allowed inside the University of Cardiff’s special collection to view printed guides given out to Welsh miners planning to immigrate to Alabama. The two have also been able to visit the town of Blaenavon, a Welsh mining town that was deemed a World Heritage site back in 2000. 

While they have been abroad, Pruit and Plemons have kept their friends, family and students apprised of what they have been up to via Facebook. They have also been using the site as a way to share historical facts about mining with students and parents.

Pruitt and Plemons are both expected back in Alabama by the time school starts back up in the fall. Before that though, they are sure to have many adventures learning more about mining in Europe and how that drove people to move out here to Alabama.