Education / Thinking Skills:

Thoughts of Teachers and Parents:

 

"On Monday, we brought with us 107 rambunctious, loud, inattentive 12 year olds who, with some exceptions, were for the most part clueless about what is truly essential in their lives.  We return home today with children capable of introspection, children more likely to reflect upon life's truths, life's absolutes.  As teachers, we return with hope and with the faith that this week has, in an important and lasting way, changed our students' minds and hearts.  We have faith that these four short days live long in our students' psyche and make a significant mark in who they'll become." 

- Ana Mari Cadilla, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle

 

"The lasting value of Project American Life is that the seed of hope has been planted.  You, as a staff, will never know what fruit your work bears in the bigger picture.  The kids you think didn't get it are the very ones who will answer with the best thought during our study of the American Revolution, designing / writing the Constitution, and even the Civil War.  These kids (who often come from hopeless environments) never forget Project American Life.  They come back years later and say, "I remember the night hike when I had to trust my leader" or "I remember the game and how scared I was but so happy to reach the American Embassy!"  Thank you for your patience, perseverance, commitment, and love of kids for all these character traits combined really do bring about a change in our kids -- though you may not have the privilege of seeing it-believe it, it is there!" 

- Nanette Respess, Teacher, Morris Elementary

 

"Project American Life pulls together all the lessons we would like to provide the children in one setting." 

- Carol Gaines, Counselor, Mt. Gap Middle

 

"Of all the things I do for my classes -- both in school and out - in the two years I have them, Project American Life is by far the most important.  It plants "seeds" - and presents alternatives -- that my kids can always fall back on as they get older." 

- Major Gary R. Leopold, Teacher, Academy for Arts and Academics

 

"The long-lasting effect of Project American Life is that it encourages us to think for ourselves and to value the freedom and bounty that has been given to us.  The introspection and the pursuit of intellectual rigor are life-long tools."  

- Lesa Brahm, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle

 

"I hold most special the in-depth thinking process through which the students discover "facts" about who, where, what, and why we are here -- both as Americans and as humans beings." 

- Penny Shell, Teacher, Whitesburg Middle

 

"The program was excellent with many, many opportunities for critical thinking.  I appreciated the emphasis on values and the development of a greater appreciation for our country and freedoms.  Patriotism should have a deeper meaning for our students now." 

- Carolyn Foote, Teacher, Peer Helper from Stone Middle School

 

"The program was excellent!  I have seen and heard our students express themselves more in the last four days than in the last year and a half." 

- Leigh Harrison, Teacher, Williams Tech

 

"My most special experience at Project American Life was watching my son pick up on the basic ideals of the program and put them into his own words and express this with others.  The students have learned to think things through and not follow blindly.  I think they finally have a clue how special it is to be an American." 

- Lars Sibley, Parent, Mt. Gap Middle

 

"Project American Life is of special importance because for some children this may be the first and only time that they will have this type of exposure.  This is a foundation upon which they will be able to build." 

- Alvena Crump, Grandmother and Retired Teacher, Morris Elementary

 

"I think the children have seen the world from a new perspective.  All the things they take for granted in their lives have experienced a shift.  Their "community" has been enlarged and that is a significant experience." 

- Chaille Raines, Teacher, Meadowview Elementary

 

"Project American Life is a program ahead of its time and yet long overdue.  Two thoughts will remain with me:  My students have been told and shown in various ways that each is special and has a purpose.  As a teacher, the setting and the curriculum have reminded me of my rights to teach the truth." 

- Sandra Montgomery, Teacher, Academy for Science and Foreign Language

 

"Project American Life has given our young people a reason to think about who they are, where they are, and what they are.  It also puts the responsibility for their actions on them." 

- Annie J. Cheatham, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle

 

"I rate the program a 10.  I am especially appreciative of the idea of pursuing truth and experiencing the joy of freedom." 

- Thomas Parker, Parent, Chapman Elementary

 

"Awesome!  The curriculum with its emphasis on values, character education, self-reflection, and understanding who we are strikes a great balance with all the garbage out there in the world.  The students were pointed in a direction which encouraged and challenged them to really begin asking difficult questions about themselves and the meaning for their existence." 

- Jim Clifford, Teacher, Mill Springs Academy

 

"It was the most amazing experience I've had in recent memory.  The program is so compelling in nature that it is almost impossible to describe.  As one student said at the end of camp, 'I certainly got my money's worth.'  I will hold most special watching the change in the children from a "me" orientation to a "we" orientation." 

- Ford William, Parent, Tuscaloosa Middle

 

"Project American Life is amazing!  It teaches life-long principles and lessons through fun activities that are not only entertaining but thought provoking as well." 

- Jayme Mothershed, Teacher, Mt. Gap Middle School

 

"It's difficult to put into words what this program means to me and my students.  I have witnessed a change and a bonding in these kids that could not have occurred in a typical classroom.  I am excited to see the ideals of this country spoken of freely on a daily basis with no shame or regret.  I am truly impressed with all aspects of Project American Life." 

- Anne Phillips, Teacher, The Altamont School

 

"Project American Life is a great program for getting kids to think about their place in the world, about personal responsibility, and trying to do something with their lives." 

- Adam Landingham, Teacher, The Academy for Science and Foreign Language

 

"I will hold most special watching my students interact, learn to trust each other and work as a unit to solve problems.  I especially was touched by the moments when the light really shone through a student.  I came as a skeptic that a four-day field trip would justify its value.  I leave a convert.  Thanks for what you do here so enthusiastically." 

- C. James, Teacher, The Academy for Science and Foreign Language

 

"I cannot possibly list all of the special experiences we had on one piece of paper!  One of the greatest accomplishments of the program is that it forces children to analyze the world in which we live.  They must understand where we were, where we are presently, and then they must ultimately decide where we are to go in the future. In this "me" oriented world, this line of questioning is priceless..."  

- Jill Powell, Teacher, Morris Elementary

 

“What a fantastic way to bring knowledge to young people.  It’s wonderful to see enthusiasm in young people about history, character education and life lessons.” 

- Wynelle Sewell, Guidance Counselor, Mountain Gap Middle School

 

“For some this is a repackaging of ideas and concepts they’ve heard in the past, but packaged in a way that is meaningful and delivered by respected sources.  For some of these concepts may be new.  In either case, the content and timing of the message will have a profound and lasting effect on our local communities and our nation.  Thank you, and please continue in this great work.  How refreshing to know that such a program exists: one that so effectively reaches kids before they’ve had a chance to make to make too many bad choices, and one that inspires young people to make a positive difference in their world.” 

- Eddie Sturgis, Parent, Whitesburg Middle School

 

“This was one of the best learning experiences I have seen for any age group.  Experience is the key, and I wish that more programs were available to our children – this is cutting edge stuff.  The techniques used to teach these ideas are memorable and the ideas will continue to resurface in these minds for a long time.” 

- Margaret Cooper, Parent, Eastwood and Tuscaloosa Middle Schools

 

“Project American Life is an incredible program that captures the children’s imaginations and attention immediately.  The children did / played programs / activities that made them learn and actually think about what they were learning.  They have been made aware of concepts that they really hadn’t thought of before.  They played games that helped them truly understand ideas and concepts in a way that they will remember and truly understand.” 

- Shag Syed, Parent, Eastwood and Tuscaloosa Middle Schools

 

“The children leave with a feeling of self-worth.  The have a better understanding of the world around them and our country.  I could teach out of a textbook for two years and not have them learn what they have this week!” 

- Kimberlie Eason, Teacher, Providence and Morris Elementary Schools

 

“I really appreciate the way that P.A.L. makes kids think deeply, rather than just regurgitate facts.  P.A.L. helps kids step out of their own little world, outside of themselves, and into the world of others.” 

- Dawn Baker, Teacher, Westminster Christian Academy

 


Thoughts of Students:


"All of the experiences at Project American Life were good because it wasn't superficial.  IT WAS REAL!  You didn't teach us facts for a test, but facts for LIFE.  We need to have a motivation.  We need to know how fortunate we really are.  This experience will last us all our lives.  It refreshed our souls, or that's what it felt like.  I feel new.  I've always wanted to talk about deep stuff.  I finally got to do it." 

- Natalia, 6th Grade

 

"The best thing about Project American Life was the way we learned the most valuable things in the world, and still had fun." 

- Alicia, 6th Grade

 

"I learned to try to see things for myself before simply believing someone else, and that you really have to try your very hardest sometimes to get something accomplished." 

- Jennifer, 6th Grade

 

"I learned that human beings are really special.  Some people say that if we went back in time and there were no humans, the world would be more beautiful.  But nobody would be there to enjoy it." 

- Kaitlyn, 6th Grade

 

"Project American Life is about learning without books, having fun adventures, and learning about important things." 

- Lauren, 6th Grade

 

"Project American Life made me know what life is really like.  It really made me think.  Thanks!"

- Jaymee, 6th Grade

 

"I think Project American Life is about preparing you for life when you get older.  It helped me see things about myself I had never seen before." 

- Jodi, 6th Grade

 

"Project American Life is all about learning to use your mind to its fullest extent." 

- Austin, 5th Grade

 

"Project American Life is about learning how special and important life is." 

- Brandi, 5th Grade

 

"I learned to think before I make judgments or take action, so that I can be aware of everything in life.  Project American Life is just like it says on our t-shirts, "Reclaiming the Culture... One Child at a Time." 

-  Steven, 6th Grade

 

"I learned to think on my own (for myself).  By using the lenses of thinking, I learned the difference between thinking something through and just talking gibberish." 

- Sigourney, 5th Grade

 

"Project American Life is about Life -- the life we live, the love we give, the fun we share, that place we live (America), and the places we'll go.  Project American Life was really great and I think everyone should be able to come." 

- Chantias, 6th Grade

 

"Project American Life is an educational journey that helps you solve problems and deal with all kinds of different situations." 

- Nova, 6th Grade

 

"The most important thing I learned was how to think.  Project American Life is about real life so that we can know what to expect." 

- Annie, 6th Grade

 

"The most important thing I learned this week was what I want to do with my life because you have to figure it out sometime.  Project American Life is about finding out why you were put on the earth." 

- Wright, 6th Grade

 

"Project American Life is learning things that most people have forgotten." 

- Julia, 5th Grade

 

"The most important things I learned this week were the four lenses because they taught me to be able to back up my argument." 

- Jacob, 6th Grade

 

"Project American Life teaches to make the right decisions in life, to help you get over your fears, and to help you think for yourself." 

- Brittanie, 5th Grade

 

"I think Project American Life is about learning about other people, role playing their lives, and knowing how they feel.  It is also about learning the true meaning of life." 

- Ava, 5th Grade

 

“The most important thing I learned this week was what it feels like to be handicapped.  When I see someone who is handicapped, I’ll stop and greet them because now I know what it feels like to be handicapped.” 

- Hunter, 6th Grade

 

“The most important thing I learned this week was that all people are created equal and we should treat each other like fine china and not paper plates.” 

- Haley, 6th Grade

 

“The most important thing I learned is to be grateful.  It’s important because my dad has been teaching me that for a while and this has finally helped me understand.” 

- Jasmine, 6th Grade

 

“P.A.L. taught us what it would be like if we were in someone else’s position.  It taught us and allowed us to take chances and set goals and complete them.  The most important thing I learned was that everyone has a purpose in life.” 

- Joe, 6th Grade

 

“The most important thing I learned this week was that we complain about medium-well and well-done, while other people suffer from malnutrition, lack of freedom, and anarchy – just to name a few.  We should stop worrying about the little things and focus on these larger problems.” 

- Benjamin, 6th Grade

 

“Project American Life puts us in other people’s shoes and lets us experience it.  It makes us realize how good we have it.”

- Samantha, 6th Grade

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