On Nov. 13, the Utah Commission on Civic and Character Education along with the Utah State Board of Education hosted the second annual Symposium on Social Studies and Civic Education in Utah Schools. During this event, Lydia Nuttall of Mountain Green was presented with the 2012 Community Leader in Civic and Character Education award by Lt. Governor, Greg Bell.
There is only one individual in the entire state chosen for this prestigious award, so Nuttall was understandably humbled and thrilled to receive it. She was honored for authoring the “Forgotten American Stories,” a compilation of stories ranging from the story behind the Star Spangled Banner, to Ellis Island and what it was like to immigrate to the United States.
Nuttall said that her life was changed after attending last year’s symposium and it inspired her to try and affect real change in her own home and in her community. The 2011 conference was entitled, “Social Studies and Civic/Character Education: Honoring Our Constitutional Promises to Utah’s Children.”
Speaking of the 2011 symposium, Nuttall quoted Rep. LaVar Christensen saying she wanted to “….teach foundational principals of freedom through stories that help connect Utah’s children with applying these principles in real life.”
“I learned for myself that there are two factors that make America free: Our unique form of government and the good character of the American people. When one or both of these attributes become weak due to lack of education and/or commitment to these factors, we Americans will experience erosion of freedom until we eventually become no different from any other country,” commented Nuttall.
Nuttall realized that as a mom it didn’t matter how much children succeed in learning math, English, playing soccer and dance, if we fail to teach them why we have freedom to do these things and how to actively do what it takes to keep those freedoms. She reflected on the fact that there are no more sparsely populated continents to flee to in order to re-establish freedoms that we neglected to teach our children to preserve.
In the ensuing months after that conference, Nuttall went to work. In an effort to gain answers to her own questions about our government, she attended local and state education meetings and did a whole lot of reading and research. Garnering support from the Morgan County community was a huge task, but her history of dedication to the school board and other civic involvement helped her achieve the backing she needed to make her “Forgotten American Stories” available to the public. Joel Coleman, member of the Utah State Board of Education, praised Nuttall saying, “For as long as I have been an elected board member, Lydia has personally attended every one of our State Board of Education meetings. She keeps a good eye on us. She is passionate about strengthening and deepening her community’s appreciation for and understanding of America’s Constitution and the rich heritage we all share as citizens of the United States of America.”
Four years ago, Nuttall said that she didn’t even know that the Constitution she had hanging on the wall of her home was actually the Declaration of Independence. So the highlight of writing the stories for her was the fact that she can bring this history to people like her in the community who know or remember little of the people and principles that founded this country and made it great. She said that actually receiving support and recognition from state and local leaders for this undertaking just blew her away.
Morgan County School District Superintendant Ken Adams took time away from personal commitments to attend the presentation of this award and said that he attended because “Lydia worked very hard on this project and provided families and the community with a great historical resource centered around our Constitution.” Nuttall expressed appreciation for Adams’ attendance and also appreciated that city employee, Teresa Shope attended with her husband Mike who is head of the transportation department for the school district.