Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff on Friday announced that over 250 seventh grade students from Cullman Middle School and over 250 ninth grade students from Cullman High School next year will have unprecedented access to community opportunities and resources that will help prepare them to be Life, Career and Citizen ready graduates.
Additionally, each year thereafter, the high school program will add a grade level until all four grades are participating in the Citizen Promise Program — making it the second high school in Alabama selected to provide this civics and career immersion for its students offered by Liberty Learning.
“The Citizen Promise Program is really a catalyst and a framework for public-private partnerships that help schools provide students with real-life experiences to complement their academics,” stated Liberty Learning Foundation CEO Patti Yancey.
The Alabama-based nonprofit has been praised locally for the success of its elementary and middle school programs which focus on civics, character, financial literacy and career development.
“This is a natural next step in the process,” Yancey added. “Our younger students understand the importance of being part of the community and country. The Citizen Promise then connects high schoolers with people who care deeply and can contribute time, talent and treasure that helps them succeed.”
According to a release, the Citizen Promise high school model sets goals for engagement and rewards achievement. Students begin with a dive into founding documents of American history and their relevance today. Then, they are challenged to apply corresponding concepts to develop essential skills, to build character and to increase community involvement through Citizen Actions. Students will begin using the lessons they are learning to make real impacts in their community, starting now. Opportunities throughout the year will help inspire and educate the whole citizen by ensuring the comprehension of critical civic, character, historical and career-life knowledge.
“Around 20 years ago we got away from character and citizenship in education as a whole, to focus so much on reading and math,” Kallhoff remarked. “But in the process we let character and citizenship fall behind. That’s what makes me so excited about expanding our partnership with the Liberty Learning Foundation, which will address the problem head on, teaching students the idea of service before self.”
Cullman City Schools is spearheading the American Character and Citizen Promise initiative in the community while Liberty Learning Foundation acts as a “conduit” by rallying a “Promise Ring” of passionate partners to support and mentor students in their community. Cullman City Schools administrators, counselors and teachers facilitate, mentor and celebrate student achievements. Together, the partners will help students engage in real-world opportunities, giving them a firm foundation and a roadmap for the paths they choose after graduation. The City of Cullman has stepped up as the first major investor, pledging to match every sponsorship donation contributed from the community to this Cullman City Schools program.
“We have seen the Liberty Learning programs make a difference in the lives of those younger children in the elementary programs,” added Cullman City Mayor Woody Jacobs. “However, when we found out they could build on that foundation in middle and high school, we knew we had to make it happen in Cullman. We’re proud to be investing in these programs, because we know it’ll make a difference for Cullman in the long run. I encourage every business owner and community member to share your time, treasure, and talent when called upon to support this program.”
“We couldn’t make this kind of an impact without the financial support from Cullman City, and enthusiasm from Senator Garlan Gudger. And the commitment from Cullman City Schools shows this is a community who truly cares about EVERY child succeeding. Every Cullman resident and business leader should be proud of their community,” concluded Brett Johnson, vice president of Liberty Learning Foundation.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn