Renee Albertoli, Park Ranger
Independence National Historical Park/Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, Pennsylvania
Congratulations to Renee Albertoli for receiving the 2012 National Freeman Tilden Award. Albertoli was presented the national award for her outstanding work in establishing Project Write - Inspire Me! a writing enrichment program for high school students.
Throughout a two-week intensive workshop, participants explored essential themes such as "Power of the Press" or "House Divided/Nation Divided." Students visited ten historic sites, read primary source documents, discussed themes, and spent afternoons immersed in writing activities. Students created a literary magazine, and they posted blogs, tweets, photos, and videos on the park's website, Facebook and YouTube sites.
Students explored links between past and present and discovered that many issues debated by the nation's founders are still disputed today. Parents reported that their children had become more aware of the park and the continuing relevance of the essential questions by exploring current news reports and engaging in active discussions on social media. One father said he had never "seen so much enthusiasm coming from his son as he left to attend the daily workshop classes."
The quality of the students' work was so compelling that the University of Pennsylvania and the Gates Foundation are using this program as the basis for a new core curriculum for local tenth grade students. Through her enthusiasm and creativity, Albertoli has inspired youth to see formerly boring, uninteresting old buildings as inspiring representations of ideals and movements that are still deeply relevant today. She has helped students develop new skills to explore and engage in the great and continuing questions of the nation's democracy.