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Hampton schoolteacher goes the extra mile to bring history to life

Eighth-grade history teacher Matthew Alexander taught students virtually from D.C., as they continue online learning from home.

HAMPTON, Va. — In this time of virtual learning, it’s easy for students to zone out, but one Hampton City school teacher is going the extra mile to keep his students engaged.

From Thomas Eaton Middle School, eighth-grade civics teacher Matthew Alexander brings history to life.

“I’ve kind of been known for my extravagance in the classroom,” said Alexander.

Out of his twelve years of teaching, this week marks the first-of-its-kind class for him.

For the time being, all of his students are learning virtually because of COVID-19. So, in light of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death, he drove to D.C. and live-streamed the lesson to his class.

"Then kind of surprise them with 'Hey, I’m here in front of the Supreme Court Building,' and talked about Justice Ginsburg and how she was a defender of rights," Alexander said.

He showed students the turnout and flowers memorializing her.

It’s topical because his class is learning about the first amendment.

“Not just reading about it in a book, not just seeing a picture of it. An actual 'I’m here and this is happening right in front of you,'” said Alexander.

He shared peaceful moments and civil discourse, with interactions between others. 

“Two people that actually got into an argument right in front of me. I’m getting goosebumps right now just talking about it,” Alexander said. 

That wasn’t his only stop either. He scootered to the Capitol while student-teacher Elizabeth Bradley continued teaching virtually.

“There were some kids who had these big old smiles on their faces when they realized where he was,” said Bradley.

The class caught the students' attention and gave her a chance to use her teaching skills.

"Some unique opportunities that we might not get otherwise,” Bradley explained.

Alexander said he usually takes the class to D.C. every year, but in this time of virtual learning and isolation, he brought the nation’s capital to students.

“Anything that you can do to show those students that you care,” Alexander said.