We can teach our children and grandchildren that character is as important as intellect,
that idealism is superior to cynicism, that wisdom is more important than information.

We can teach them to be realistic and affirming, to see life not only as it is but also
as it ought to be. Heroes are a response to a deep and powerful impulse, the need
to emulate and idealize.
   Peter H. Gibbon, A Call to Heroism, Atlantic Monthly Press



A word from Deena Burnett
Tom's last words to me were “We're going to do something.”

As citizens of the greatest nation in the world, we believe everyone has choices and opportunities to serve our communities, educate our children, and truly make a difference in the world.  

Citizenship Education, you’re opening a door for your students to become more thoughtful and engaged citizens.

We thank you for sharing your time, knowledge, and enthusiasm to educate our nation’s youth. It is our hope that these civic lessons and heroic stories will inspire us all to “do something” positive and meaningful everyday.

  Deena Burnett
Tom Burnett Family Foundation

Get to know our curriculum leads:

Kathleen West
A graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Kathleen is is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Literacy Education program at the University of Minnesota. As a classroom teacher for the past 5 years, Kathleen worked as an English teacher on an interdisciplinary team at Oak Grove Middle School located in Bloomington, Minnesota. She is a contributing author to a Bloomington Public Schools CD-ROM of lessons designed to help teachers create interracial learning opportunities for students in all grade levels.

Her professional areas of interest include multicultural, gifted and talented, and citizenship education. As the niece of Tom Burnett, Kathleen has a special interest in the success of Citizenship Education and helped to launch the program in Bloomington in September, 2002. 

On leave from teaching for the current school year, Kathleen currently spends most of her time with her infant son, Thomas Sheffield.
What especially struck me about the Tom Burnett Memorial Day of Service was that it gave every student a chance to shine. Even those students who had discipline problems or trouble completing homework had the opportunity to make a real, significant difference in our community.

Deborah Skinner
Founder and president of Curriculum that Works, an education consulting firm, Deborah works with businesses and non-profit organizations to develop classroom curriculum that promotes active learning, is inter-disciplinary, and focuses on critical thinking skills. She is a certified trainer in Dimensions of Learning and Curriculum Mapping and gives presentations on best practices for teachers in the classroom. Some of the works she has developed include Start Something. for the Tiger Woods Foundation and Target Corporation, The Saint John's Bible classroom curriculum for St. John's University, The African American in the Arts, for the Vocal Essence Organization, as well as other projects on character education and leadership development for youth.

Deborah received the Outstanding Teacher Leader Award from the Archdiocese of St. Paul Minneapolis in 2002. She holds a B.A. in Music Education and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. A classroom teacher for twenty years, currently she is teaching middle school music. Deborah is a member of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), and the National Catholic Educators Association (NCEA).

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Go with mean people and you think life is mean...with the great, our thoughts and manners easily become great.”

As educators it is our responsibility to raise the bar, challenge the minds of kids and help them mature. And that goes way beyond just imparting the facts. We must show them the importance of idealism, heroism and personal choice.

The Tom Burnett curriculum, Citizenship, inspires kids to greatness. By learning the story of a modern day hero, kids will come to realize that greatness starts with the individual. And often, heroism is simply a choice to do the right thing.

Renee Sbrocco
Renee earned herB.A. in Psychology and an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Minnesota, and is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Policy and Administration there, as well.

Her professional areas of interest include multicultural and citizenship education, and she helped to develop the Citizenship Education program in the fall of 2002 with her students and colleagues on Oak Grove's Team Civitas.

She has taught within the Bloomington Public School system at Thomas Jefferson High School and Oak Grove Middle School, for the past six years. She won the Minnesota Sallie Mae First Year Teacher of the Year Award in 1999 and coordinated and contributed to the Bloomington Public School CD-ROM of lessons designed to help teachers create interracial learning opportunities.


Teaching Citizenship Education was extremely rewarding and effective for the teachers and the students. This program provided an outlet for the concerns and questions surrounding 9/11 and the issues facing our country, while channeling their actions into something positive.