HD South for K-12 

HD South for K-12 

HD South for K-12

Elaine Kessler

The HD South building is the original Gilbert Elementary School, built in 1913, and is the oldest building still standing in Gilbert. HD South is a delightful place to explore and discover the Gilbert community for K-12 teachers and their students. As the only building in Gilbert on the National Register of Historic Places, it is not only a monument to our town’s past but serves as a beacon for what’s possible for our future. Embracing a Communities for All Ages (CFAA) approach, HD South actively engages in building “communities that are good places for growing up and growing older.”

HD South is a tremendous asset with artifacts chronicling Gilbert’s rich history, an art gallery curated by Gilbert’s own Art Intersection, and programming with wide and diverse appeal.

Students may be encouraged to see each space and complete a multi-faceted assignment in conjunction with their visit. Knowing about one’s community contributes to students’ intellectual development and HD South is foundational for this type of learning.

Students may be asked to describe, sketch, and/or snap a photo of their favorite artifact. HD South is full of items that help students understand what life was like in the early days of the community here. Pioneer living was often about survival and you’ll find many historical objects that help students to understand how vastly different life was for Gilbert settlers.

For example, in the Generations room, early families in Gilbert are showcased in a few different ways. In addition to photographs and information detailing where and how they spent their time, there are examples of what they wore and examples of the types of toys they had back then. The Town room highlights the early businesses in the community and the ways that public safety operated. The Farming room introduces the many occupations centered around agriculture and the different crops that were planted in the area. The opportunity to compare life now to life then is easy to illustrate with the many historical artifacts found within HD South.

After students leave HD South, they may be asked to explain the meaning of the artifact – what did the artifact remind them of; why did they choose it; and how do they think future generations will come to understand that artifact? They may also be asked to detail what they learned about Gilbert from their visit and their artifact selection. This is an incredible to way to develop students’ love and appreciation for the area and its past.

In Gallery 4, curated by Art Intersection, “the mission” according to Alan Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Art intersection, is ‘to stimulate dialogue and the exchange of ideas as well as community engagement that provokes an insatiable thirst for human understanding and connection. Exhibitions and programs in Gallery 4 invite the viewer to engage in personal reflection and conversation regarding social, environmental, and cultural topics…Through this presentation of art we intend to transform our immediate personal experience to a broader perspective.”

Art is always an amazing resource to understanding a community and its priorities; it provides a window into what a location’s citizens are about. Art is the fastest and most accessible way to understanding a community’s pride and allegiance.

For their visit to Gallery 4, students may be asked to sketch or describe the artwork to which they are most drawn and then to answer the following questions: What does the art remind you of? What is the medium/media? What perspective does the artwork make possible?

Students’ responses to each experience – the artifact and the artwork – will be insightful and instructive for educators of any grade. The opportunity to develop a connection with the community that is educating them is priceless.


General Information on HD South. www.hdsouth.org. Accessed 8 May 2020.

Kessler, Elaine. “Untitled Image.” Elaine Kessler Photography. 2020. www.elainekesslerphotography.com

Kolar, Kayla. “Blog – K-12 Teachers.” Message to Elaine Kessler. 29 May 2020. E-mail.

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