August 2016 Newsletter
2016 Summer Recap
Welcome to a brand new year everyone! Once again the Liberty’s Legacy Team is eager to start another year and spread the message of freedom, hope and opportunity to our next generation. While the fun and relaxation of summer has come to an end, we’re looking forward to another awesome year working with you. Like many of you, we’ve had a very busy summer gearing up for the new school year. This year plans to be our biggest and best year yet. We will work with more schools and students than we ever have. This year as many as 50,000 students will experience the Next Great Americans Tour experience. Because of you and your voice, our team continues to thrive and grow beyond our wildest dreams. We truly appreciate you and all you do to support our mission to teach character, citizenship, patriotism, and so many other critical skills to our next generation. We can’t wait to see your smiling faces and get the year kicked off.
In order to gear up for the new year and meet the growing demand for our programs, we’ve added new members to our team. One of the additions comes in the form of our famous Libby character. Welcome to the team, Kelli Dodd! Kelli is a former high school Spanish teacher at Ranburne High School in northeast Alabama. She also has a blossoming career on stage performing in many roles and shows including Central Alabama’s Theatre Smoke on the Mountain and Red Mountain Theatre Company’s Secret Garden. Kelli will support our team in many ways, most notably in the role of Libby Liberty. But with Kelli’s multifaceted talents, she will also write, photograph, and help document our events throughout the year. Kelli brings versatility and exuberance to our team and we’re overjoyed to have her on board.
Another stellar addition to our team is that of Penny Kinsey. Penny has been an educator in south Alabama for 26 years, most recently as Principal of Admiral Moorer Middle School. The past two years she has worked extraordinarily well with the Liberty’s Legacy Team, because her school has helped to develop and pilot our new middle school program called “American Characters”. This year we plan to pilot “American Characters” in several other middle schools across the state, and by next year we hope to offer it as a part of our full line of educational programs. Penny will add plenty of passion, energy, and experience to our team as a Regional Educational Director serving schools primarily in south Alabama.Believe it not, our staff members aren’t the only new additions to our team. We even have new Patriotic Partners supporting the Liberty Learning Foundation mission in 2016-2017. Some of you may have heard of ScreenTech, Inc. They are a custom and collegiate screen-printing and embroidery retail company located in south Alabama. They provide licensed merchandising for Auburn University, the University of Alabama, and Troy University just to name a few. They also serve hundreds of K-12 schools throughout the southeast. This year ScreenTech, Inc. will print and deliver our Hands On Learning and Super Citizens T-shirts right to your school door. Isn’t that awesome?! You and your students will continue to receive quality t-shirts and products delivered by quality customer service.
In addition to ScreenTech, Inc., Liberty’s Legacy is proud to announce that Full Cue Productions will also help support our mission. Full Cue Productions will provide support to the demanding schedule of our Next Great Americans Tour and Events Team by assisting with stage production during our Kickoff and Celebration Events. They are an experienced and talented group who have worked with our team in the past. We believe in them and they believe in us.
Liberty’s Legacy is super excited to be partnering with such extraordinary organizations that both believe in and support our mission. Thank you ScreenTech, Inc. and Full Cue Productions for all that you do. We are thrilled to have so many wonderful additions to our team. It means that we will be able to better serve you and your students, as well as grow into even more areas. You all are the best and we are committed to providing you with an outstanding experience. As always, we are here to serve you. If you ever have any questions or suggestions please don’t hesitate to let us know. Tell us how we can serve you better. Your participation matters. Also, be on the lookout for more information coming from us including our mid and end of year surveys. We cherish your feedback.
We wish all of you a safe and successful school year. Get ready, cause here we come!!!
– Reeivice Girtman, Executive VP of Business Development
Behind the Scenes: How to Build the Statue of Liberty Replica
The Statue of Liberty Replica is the focal point for the students participating in the Super Citizen Program, it’s also the driving force behind Torch Teams as your students work hard to raise money to purchase one (or more) for their heroes at their Super Citizen Graduation Celebrations. Why else are they important? Well, they are a piece of history. Inside each Statue of Liberty Replica in the shape of a heart is actually material from the Statue of Liberty when she was originally built in France. Liberty’s Legacy has been so fortunate to have the opportunity to share these replica’s with everyone involved in the Super Citizen Program. But we always hear the same question time and time again… how are they built? Right here in Huntsville, AL, members of our team work countless hours to personally pour each mold, placing the material inside each one, painting every inch of the lady in green (even her gold torch). It’s an extraordinary process that we thought would be fun to show you.
– Barbie Sumner, Director of Public Affairs
Most Inspiring Celebration Yet as Torch Team Hero Was Honored for Efforts in Dale County’s 2013 Bunker Child Abduction Incident
I had been a part of many Super Citizen Graduation Celebrations. I had watched countless students take the stage to honor and celebrate a true hero in their community. Sometimes I would giggle to hear the precious words spoken by the little voices, but other times I would recklessly cry as I try to contain myself and maintain the flow of the event. This day was different.
This past January, the Newton Elementary lunchroom was filled to the brim with family, community members, students and teachers. As I walked around gathering the little Statue of Liberty pins from the teachers, one teacher stopped me. She handed me a few sheets of paper with writing on them. She asked if I would mind reading them before the student came up to present their hero. I, of course, told her it was my pleasure and continued on.
I consider myself a pretty good reader, so I didn’t think to read over these short sentences before the celebration began. As I read these introductions, I found they were giving a background on why these heroes were chosen. All were filled with background information like careers, families, how they were connected to these teachers, classrooms or students personally. They were beautiful ways of giving meaningful details to the attendees as they watched this event unfold.
There was one left. I effortlessly started reading through about a little girl who was seconds away from taking the stage. My words began to slow and my throat started closing as I choked on the flood of tears that accompanied these words. This little girl joined with many classmates and friends as their bus was attacked by someone who in a moment took the life of, not just their bus driver, but their friend. This little girl boldly stood up in a crowded room and honored Laura Bertagonoli, a therapist at the Southeast Child Advocacy Center, who walked her through grief, social anxiety and attending school again after seeing the images she saw that day.
You might remember this tragic story on the news, as it will forever affect this tight knit community. On January 29th, 2013, 65 year old Jimmy Lee Dykes boarded their Dale County School bus trying to abduct several children. The school bus driver, 66 year old Charles Albert Poland refused and Dykes took his life. Dykes captured one of the students from the bus and held him hostage in his bunker for almost 7 days. This tragic, unforgettable experience was witnessed by many students on that bus.
When Ms. Bertagonoli was asked about the experience with these students she said, “it was really incredible how those kids were so brave and so supportive of each other and personally, I had never witnessed anything quite like that. Throughout the year and a half that we worked with the children, they continued to do that for each other. I believe in the work that I do but there’s nothing that I could have done that would have equaled what they did for one another and that’s really what I was thinking of in that moment.”
The room was silent except for the muffled cries of the room. A group of people humbled by an event that was so close to their hearts and the lives of their children. It is days like these when I know The Super Citizen Program is making a difference. It is highlighting the lives of extraordinary people who are changing the lives of our children.
– Kristen Sharp (Libby Liberty)
Libby Liberty Jumps Off the Stage – and Onto the Page!
This September, star of stage, screen and now … print, Libby Liberty™, will hit the road in support of her educational school tour and children’s book promo events.
A former Broadway actress, Kristen Sharp (Libby Liberty™) was in New York City on September 11. “I stood in Times Square as ash fell like rain,” she says. “I also saw people coming together as one.” That tragic, but cathartic, experience lead Sharp back home to Birmingham, AL where she eventually connected with Liberty Learning Foundation and began using her talents and experience to bring the lessons of liberty and freedom to schools across the state.
“I get the kids excited and then they head to classrooms to learn really important lessons in civics, character, financial literacy and our Great American Story.” This fall, Libby Liberty’s story will spread beyond school stages as “In Search of Super Citizens,” is released nationally. The book mirrors her real-life story and invites young kids along for the ride as they meet Super Citizens from all walks of life. The story concludes by suggesting the reader take a good look in the mirror to see that they are, themselves, the next Super Citizen.
Kristen is available for on-air interviews, to appear as a motivational speaker and in costume for book readings / signings. She can also be on hand for special occasions, singing the national anthem and more.
Proceeds from book sales help power Liberty Learning Foundation‘s mission to teach, inspire and empower our Next Great Americans.
Elections, Voting & Citizenship Lessons
In just a few short months the United States will be electing a new president who lead our country for the next four years. This is a perfect opportunity to utilize the resources in the Hands on Liberty or Super Citizen Program. For the older students, we have included a variety of activities that can be used after reading one of our favorite books, “Grace for President”.
Located in the Hands on Liberty resource you will find lessons on our american government and voting & elections. Both are excellent to use when discussing with your students about how our government functions and the importance of voting. As a citizen of this country it is a privilege that many have fought and died for, and voting is a great way to exercise one of your many rights as an American citizen.
The Super Citizen lesson located in the Super Citizen resource reviews the many wonderful opportunities we have as citizens in this great country. It focuses on our Constitution, which serves as a basis for the rights we enjoy in this country.
Please take the time during the next few months to get your students involved in this exciting and historic event in our country.