Leaders in Learning: Local Heroes

Subjects: History, Social Studies
Grade Levels: K-2, 3-5, 6-8
Source: Cable in the Classroom

Donna Bownds served three years in the U.S. Army before becoming a teacher. Last year, when her Clear Creek Elementary school had the opportunity to collaborate with Time Warner Cable and host History'sTM new event program, "Take a Veteran to School Day," Bownds seized the opportunity to get involved.

On Nov. 9, 2007, local veterans visited Clear Creek Elementary to share stories about their service and to discuss their military experience and current jobs with the students. The day's events were kicked off with a presentation of an enlisted soldier who had witnessed the capture of Saddam Hussein. The soldier spoke to students about the importance of education to their lives and of the contributions veterans have made to the country. Students also heard presentations from members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Women Army Corps Veterans Association and veterans stationed on or near the post. Other "Take a Veteran to School Day" activities at Clear Creek included a picnic and a presentation from author and former Superintendent of West Point Lt. Gen. Dave R. Palmer (USA Ret.). He spoke of the history behind Veterans Day and the meaning of the word, "freedom." In an effort to capture the events of the day, Bownds recorded numerous presentations and published them online as podcasts with the help of equipment and staff from Time Warner Cable.

The goals of the program were to strengthen ties in the community, bring history to life in the classroom and recognize the contributions of America's veterans. For the students of Clear Creek, it was a poignant experience, given that the school is located on the Fort Hood Army post and that 99 percent of the students are dependents of military personnel.

"This partnership allowed us to provide an engaging experience for students that involved parents and the community. Many parents in attendance, some of whom had just returned from Iraq, expressed their concern about America's support for the U.S.'s continued presence there and stated that they were happy to come home and feel supported."

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