‘We want to prepare students’

Cullman City Schools teams with Liberty Learning Foundation for character, citizenship programs

Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff, school board member Jason Neal, and Alabama Senator Garlan Gudger, Jr. speak at a kickoff event on Wednesday for the new citizenship programs coming to Cullman City Schools. (Photo courtesy of Cullman City School)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman City Schools (CCS) is gearing up to launch a new citizenship program that aims to impact hundreds of local students in the coming years. 

CCS, the Liberty Learning Foundation and the City of Cullman are partnering with the American Character and Citizen Promise programs, which will be offered to around 250 seventhgrade students at Cullman Middle School and 250 ninthgrade students from Cullman High School this fall respectively — with plans to expand those programs by grade level each following year. Students will be able to participate via sponsorship, volunteering and mentorship. 

“Around 20 years ago, we got away from character and citizenship in education as a whole, to focus so much on reading and math,” Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said. “But in the process, we let character and citizenship fall behind. That’s what makes me so excited about this partnership, which will address the problem head on, teaching students the idea of service before self.” 

Brett Johnson, vice president of Liberty Learning Foundation, noted the programs aim to address a need that has largely gone unnoticed at the state and national level the past several years. 

“We want to prepare students for what comes after high school, which for every student, is adulthood,” he said. “Be it college, the workforce or learning how to manage a household, our goal is for students to feel confident in starting that next chapter of their life. We believe this is something that will pay dividends in this community for years to come.” 

The American Character Program for seventh graders will create an exciting experience for students to learn lessons in civic responsibility, character building, financial literacy, career development, community engagement and defining their role in America’s future. This resource teaches the history behind 10 pivotal American characters such as Harriet Tubman, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln, while highlighting the motivating character traits which distinguishes these individuals as extraordinarily significant heroes in the American experience. 

The program is compatible with American history, civics or government class, and concludes with a student-led “Expo” where they share their ideas and execution of service projects with peers, parents and press. Through defining characters from our nation’s past, students will develop their own strong character for America’s future. 

Opportunities throughout the year help inspire and educate by ensuring the comprehension of critical civic, character, historical and career/life knowledge. School administrators, counselors and teachers facilitate, mentor and celebrate student achievements. The goal is to help students engage in real-world opportunities, giving them a firm foundation and a roadmap for the paths they choose after graduation. 

Alabama Senator Garlan Gudger, Jr. was instrumental in assembling the stakeholders and bringing the program to Cullman City Schools, as Cullman High will only be the second school in the state to feature the new Citizen Promise curriculum. 

“When I learned about this program, it didn’t take me long to connect the dots,” Gudger said. “I’m excited for what this will mean for the next generation of our community coming out of Cullman City Schools. 

Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs added, “We want our students to grow into good citizens, to be the next teacher — or next doctor — in our community.” 

Founder and CEO of Liberty Learning Foundation, Patti Yancey, noted the program is aiming to simply assist in the great work and ambition already in place in Cullman City Schools to bring citizenship education to students. 

“We want to be that extra hand to help with what you already have the drive to do,” she said. “Thank you for bringing this dream to fruition.” 

Below is a video on the program that can be viewed: https://vimeo.com/554423309/82b90eee98 

Brett Johnson, vice president of Liberty Learning Foundation, speaks at a kickoff event on Wednesday for the new citizenship programs coming to Cullman City Schools. (Photo courtesy of Cullman City Schools)