Alyssa Wagner ’12
“This certainly helped me with my work in West Virginia, since I was working with a story that is still controversial because of the different perspectives of the people involved. I think my college experiences have taught me to explore these kinds of stories with fairness, compassion, and a sincere desire to find out the truth.”
The museum is located in an original 19th-century coal camp company store, where visitors learn the story of the West Virginia coal miner through the building’s architecture, as well as documents, photographs, and other collections housed there. Alyssa gained hands-on experience working with almost every aspect of the running of a small museum. She quickly learned how to give tours, helped create a walk-in exhibit using original furnishings in the post office, sorted old currency to create a scrip display, and transcribed an entire collection of World War II letters and telegrams. She also researched the Paint Creek/Cabin Creek Mine Wars while creating interactive activities that student groups will be able to use when they visit the museum.
Alyssa moved back home in August and in immediately found a job teaching middle school social studies and religion at Saint Theresa School in Hellertown, PA. She says, “Now I get to spend every day watching my students learn for the first time the stories from history I fell in love with at Washington College. It’s a small school with a great sense of community. I love my kids, I love my job, and I love the fact that I get to spend my days immersed in history.”
Alyssa believes that her experiences at Washington College prepared her well for everything she’s been doing since graduation. “My liberal arts education taught me to never put subjects into boxes. History, for example, is not limited to the past. Its legacy is lived now. And history is connected to every other discipline, as well: art, literature, dance, and science. Hopefully my appreciation of that connectedness will help me tap into my students’ varied interests and lead them to fall in love with history the way I have.”