A group of seventh graders are investigating a cold case, and it has triggered renewed interest in the fate of a grandmother who has been missing for ten years.
At Van Alstyne Middle School, seventh graders in Amanda Schroeder’s classroom know the name of Una Mae Herd very well. They are looking into the disappearance of the 82 year old Sherman grandmother, as a means of learning research skills.
Schroeder is a Language Arts teacher who decided to use the unorthodox approach to research. “The academic goal is to teach the research process, but the life aspect of it would be to spark interest back into the case, so that we can help play a part in the family being able to find answers,” she said.
A co-workers husband told Schroeder about Herd, and she was intrigued with finding the answers. She is committed to finding unusual ways to meet the Texas state standards, so she went with the idea to principal Ryan Coleman. He liked the idea, but with two stipulations. The case could not alarm parents with gory details, and it had to be appropriate for 12 to 14 year olds.
“She was just looking for a way to make it interesting for the kids to research,” Coleman said. “Research in itself is not that interesting. Our kids have just taken to it. They’re doing stuff outside of school that’s not required.”