High Schoolers Will Learn About Freedom and Citizenship Through Kent State’s New Teagle Foundation Program

During the summer of 2023, Sa Nai Russell, a senior at Akron Public Schools' Firestone Community Learning Center, spent five weeks at Kent State participating in a pilot program for the Teagle Foundation Knowledge for Freedom Program.  

Through this program, Russell, who attends the Akron School of the Arts program at Firestone, lived in a residence hall, read passages in books and engaged in meaningful discussions with other high school students about the multiple ways in which humans are interconnected with each other and what that interconnectedness means for citizenship, freedom, and happiness. 

This pilot program led to a $250,000 implementation grant from the Teagle Foundation for Kent State to establish Liberation Learners, a program that will enable other promising underserved high school seniors in Northeast Ohio to increase their college preparedness, civic engagement and a sense of belonging. Liberation Learners will include a three-week humanities summer seminar and a school-year college support and civic engagement program at Kent State.  

Russell will be starting college in the fall with the confidence and knowledge that she gained while participating in the Teagle program at Kent State, which values freedom of expression, guided by kindness and respect. 

Here is Russell speaking with Kent State Today about her experiences in the Teagle program.  

Liberation Learners will be Kent State’s signature pathway to college programs focusing on the humanities. 

 “I am so happy that Kent State University received a grant to implement the Teagle Foundation Knowledge of Freedom experience to high school students,” said Cassandra Hanna, Academy Coach at Firestone Community Learning Center. “As a named and sister partner to Firestone CLC, Kent State University continues to enrich our students' lives and support their college and career readiness by offering opportunities such as the Teagle Foundation Knowledge of Freedom experience.”  

High schoolers in the Teagle Foundation program will learn about freedom and citizenship.

The lead professor for the Knowledge for Freedom grant is Mark Bracher, Ph.D., professor in the Department of English and director of the Neurocognitive Research Program for the Advancement of Humanities. The lead instructor for Liberation Learners is Tammy Clewell, Ph.D., professor in the Department of English and a 2023 recipient of the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award

Key personnel are Sonya Williams, Executive Director for University Outreach and Engagement Office of the Provost; Patricia Robinson,  Evaluation and Grants Project Director for the University Outreach and Engagement Office; and Renee Scherick, University Foundation Relations officer with the Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement.  

The Teagle Foundation program will “contribute to Kent State’s mission of enhancing students’ ability to thrive, belong, graduate, and become lifelong learners committed to a life of impact," according to the program summary.  

Williams said the Office of University Outreach and Engagement continues to provide pipeline students, such as those in Upward Bound programs, with amazing opportunities.   

“Teagle funding will enhance high school students’ ability to focus on issues of equality and justice,” Williams said. “The political and philosophical literature taught by Dr. Tammy Clewell from our English department will lead to powerful projects that will hopefully lead to future thought leaders. Our core team of Dr. Mark Bracher, Patricia Robinson, and Renee Scherick could not be more proud of our Teagle application and funding.”  



POSTED: Wednesday, February 28, 2024 12:58 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 29, 2024 08:59 AM
April McClellan-Copeland