Liberty Learning Foundation program school kickoff

Submitted / The Herald

Second grade students cheered and counted down to the grand entrance of Libby Liberty. Wearing green paper crowns and waving tiny American flags, they showed their enthusiasm for the Super Citizen Program they began studying after the opening performance.

The Liberty Learning Foundation believes giving school teachers a turn-key civics program complete with grade-specific curriculum and a big dose of fun will make for better educated citizens.

That belief was proven at Wetumpka Elementary School when its second-graders participated in the program during the 2018-19 school year.

“The principal at Wetumpka really liked it,” Elmore County Schools elementary director Steve McKenzie said. “The program is all about civics and character education. The kids were just enthralled with the program.”

Elmore County educators decided to partner with the Huntsville-based Liberty Learning Foundation for the 2019-20 school year and provide the program to all second-grade students in the county.

The program kicked off a few weeks ago with an event that included a real-to-life Statue of Liberty. The program teaches students what it means to be a super citizen.

“The program teaches students what it means to hold a very important title, that of citizen,” foundation vice president of development Becky Saunders. “In that time, students will nominate someone who they believe is a hero. It’s people in their everyday lives — their custodian, their crossing guard, the mayor, a police officer or a fireman. It is beautiful to see these second-grade students come up to the microphone and tell the audience about their local hero.”

The closing program for Elmore County second-grade students will take place at Wetumpka High School beginning at 9 a.m. Nov. 19. 

“They need that foundation of what our country was built and founded on,” Saunders said. “As they get older and they do the program in fifth grade and in the high school, they will have a better understanding how to be productive citizens.”

The Liberty Learning Foundation hopes at the end of this program students will have a better understanding of how America came to be the country it is today, and it will show them how to be the next generation of super citizens.

The inspiration that led to the creation of the Liberty Learning Foundation occurred after the organization’s founder and CEO sponsored Freedom Honor Flights for two military veterans.

“When she and Davis Lee got back from sponsoring these flights they were so touched and moved by what they saw after spending time with these gentlemen,” Saunders said. “They realized the generation in school now has no clue what’s been sacrificed to live in the greatest country in the world. That was when the idea was birthed to form the foundation.”

According to Saunders, it took two years working with educators located across the state of Alabama from elementary teachers to college professors to figure out why students were not understanding basic roles and responsibilities of being an active member of a community.

“We understand teachers are doing a great job of teaching the basics — reading, math, STEM, subject like that  — but we realized civics was missing, especially in elementary school which is why we have a program for second-grade students,” Saunders said. “We were told by educators we have to start young for this to work. There are so many students who are not learning these important ways to be involved and be a vital part of their communities.”

The Liberty Learning Foundation has partnered with over 275 schools across the state of Alabama since 2011. More than 200,000 students have participated in the program during that time.

The foundation introduces these programs to students in second and fifth grade, as well as to middle and high school students..

The Liberty Learning Foundation is a 501-C3 organization supported by corporate and government grants, and individual donations. Those grants and donations funds the program.

For more information about the organization, visit www.libertylearning.org.