Park Ranger Renee Albertoli from Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia is the 2012 recipient of the National Park Service’s Freeman Tilden Award for interpretive excellence. Albertoli was honored for creating a writing enrichment program for high school students entitled “Project Write – Inspire Me!”
Albertoli coordinated an innovative two-week workshop for 20 local students where they learned that issues debated by the Founding Fathers are still relevant today. Questions pondered 225 years ago in early handset printed materials are the same ones discussed today in social media.
The participants discovered that the park’s “old buildings” serve as conduits to explore the great and continuing questions of democracy. They studied historic documents, visited park sites, met with subject matter experts, held active discussions, then expressed in writing their feelings about topics such as “In Pursuit of Liberty,” “Power of the Press,” and “House Divided/Nation Divided.”
Philip, one of the students, said that because of the workshop “I have had many new experiences that have opened my mind to endless possibilities of questions of literature. I definitely was dared to read, think, speak, and write.”
The students eagerly shared their accomplishments with others through social media and a literary magazine. The literary magazine, entitled Let Freedom Write, featured original poetry, short stories, and political cartoons. The quality of their work is so compelling that it will be the basis for a new 10th grade curriculum being developed by the University of Pennsylvania and the Gates Foundation.
“Through her vision and skill, Renee has introduced a new generation to the importance of communicating thoughts through the written word. She has provided them with the skills needed to examine the world around them, to explore, to question, to engage, and then to inspire others with their ideas,” said Marta Cruz Kelly, the National Park Service program manager for Interpretation and Education.
Kelly presented Albertoli with the award last night during the Excellence in Interpretation Awards Ceremony at the annual workshop of the National Association of Interpretation in Hampton, Virginia.
The Tilden Award recognizes outstanding contributions in interpretation and visitor services by National Park Service employees. Nominees were judged on creativity, originality, and positive contributions to enhancing the public’s understanding of national park resources.
The award is named for Freeman Tilden, the author of The National Parks, What They Mean to You and Me and Interpreting Our Heritage. Tilden’s writings have had considerable influence on National Park Service interpretation and education programs.
Logo courtesy National Park Service