New program explores character-building through history | Education

More than 650 middle school students within Dothan City Schools will have the opportunity to enhance their education on some of America’s most remarkable leaders and take part in service-based projects this academic year.

The learning and service project opportunity for all middle school students in the DCS system comes after Dothan City Schools recently expanded its partnership with the Liberty Learning Foundation.

With $30,000 provided by the Dothan Area Chamber Foundation, students at Girard, Honeysuckle, Beverlye Magnet, and Carver middle schools will now have a strong engagement with civic education as well as their community as they discover new things about the leaders of America’s past and present through the American Character Program.

Patti Yancey, president and founder of Liberty Learning Foundation, said that the 10- to 12-week program is essential to further student’s knowledge about topics such as civic responsibility, character building, financial literacy, career development, and history. She added that such educational experiences would not be possible with the help of DCS officials and their full commitment to improving the quality of education for students in the city’s school system.

“One person can’t do it by themselves; one organization can’t do it by themselves. (DCS Superintendent) Dr. Edwards, (DCS Director of Curriculum) Teresa Davis, and (DCS Board Chairman) Mike Schmitz are just great at putting their money where their mouth is, and putting their purpose where their mouth is of truly seeing the whole child and not just the academic side,” Yancey said.

Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba was in attendance of the official unveiling of the extended partnership, and said that on a local level the program can help produce a thriving future for the Dothan area as it creates well-rounded individuals.

“Not everyone has great examples of character building in our lives, so to have a component like this in our school system, where we are investing again in our youth, is a huge piece that will come back to pay large dividends for our community. It’s a blessing,” said Saliba.

Girard Middle School Principal Darius McKay agreed, and added that not only will the program create a better atmosphere on a state and local level, but perhaps most importantly, create a thriving environment within the city’s middle schools for years to come.

“(When siblings of middle school students) look up to their middle school brother or sister and see they’re setting a good example, that may rub off on you,” McKay said. “(The program) will encourage students to have conversations about doing the right thing and honoring your country and things of that nature. As our kids have conversations about what’s right to do, incidents of wrong things won’t happen.”

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