Overcoming hard times

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged Tarrant County College faculty to find creative solutions for engaging students, and a group of instructors has found success with a new webinar series that focuses on some of the biggest crises in American history.

Launched two weeks ago, “Hard Times” is the brainchild of Misty Wilson-Mehrtens, assistant professor of history at TCC Connect, and Chloe Northrop, associate professor of history at TCC Northeast. Once campuses closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilson-Mehrtens and Northrop had to move a Women’s History Month event online, and it was a big hit with students.

The two instructors then reached out to colleagues in history departments throughout the district to see if there was an interest in producing a series online to put the current pandemic into a historical context, according to Wilson-Mehrtens. They were able to gain the support of seven TCC faculty members: Peter Martinez, associate professor at TCC Northeast; Leah Tarwater, adjunct history professor at TCC Connect; Lee Snaples, professor of history at TCC South; Chad Wooley, history instructor at TCC Trinity River; Christopher Menking, associate professor of history at TCC Southeast; John Lundberg, professor of history at TCC South; and Karen Wisely, associate professor of history at TCC Northeast.

“Hard Times” was designed to encourage discussions about how various national crises have shaped America and our lives. On April 10, the first webinar in this three-part series focused on events from early 20th Century – the Hurricane of 1900, racial violence from 1915-1924 and the Spanish Flu pandemic from 1918-1920. Approximately 80 TCC students participated in the first webinar and student feedback was quite positive. One student said, “My major is elementary education, but I love history. And listening to the presenters truly makes me want to earn a degree in History. So powerful and glad I joined. Keep up the great work!”

These webinars are important because they show TCC students that the past offers valuable and applicable lessons for us today, according to Wilson-Mehrtens.

All TCC students are encouraged to join the next webinar, which is scheduled for Friday, April 24 at 3 p.m. Faculty will cover the Great Depression (Snaples), the Holocaust (Wooley) and Pearl Harbor (Menking). The final webinar, slated for Friday, May 1 at 3 p.m., will cover the Modern Era—1968: A Year of Turmoil (Lundberg), the AIDS epidemic (Wisely) and the 1993 standoff in Waco (Northrup).

“TCC students are gaining lessons in fortitude during these uncertain times through wisdom from the past,” Northrop explained. “They can see how we as a nation have experienced difficult events in our history, but our resilience always shines through. When we experience these ‘hard times’ we often emerge stronger for the future. This adversity will hopefully also breed strength.”

Each webinar is free and open to all TCC students. Join the April 24 and May 1 webinars by clicking this link.