Unsung Heroes Projects
Unsung Heroes make a profound and positive impact on the course of history, yet often go unrecognized. They demonstrate extraordinary courage, compassion and even sacrifice without ever seeking credit for their actions. The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes believes such acts of conscience, selflessness and humanity should be celebrated. Unsung Heroes projects thus empower students and educators to discover and share the untold stories of Unsung Heroes throughout history in order to inspire their peers and communities to take actions that improve the lives of others.
We encourage educators of all academic disciplines and grade levels to develop Unsung Heroes projects in collaboration with their students. To discover Unsung Heroes through project-based learning, students draw on primary research and conduct in-depth interviews, gaining firsthand experience with their subject. Students then develop creative ways to communicate the stories of Unsung Heroes—writing plays and books, filming documentaries, designing websites and museum exhibits, and more.
The exciting discovery process of Unsung Heroes projects equips students with invaluable 21st century academic and life skills, including how to ask questions, think critically, solve problems, work in teams and lead meaningful discussions. Through active learning that encourages analysis of sources and findings, students gain a deep understanding of their subject and have the opportunity to relate the example set by Unsung Heroes to their own lives. This interdisciplinary and innovative approach ultimately gives students ownership over and passion for their own learning.
Most importantly, Unsung Heroes projects teach understanding and respect. As history connects the past to the present, linking generations and providing moral lessons for society, Unsung Heroes projects embrace diversity while strengthening the ties that bind humanity. Project participants and audiences learn about the world and their place in it, while discovering their responsibility and power to affect positive change.
Students and educators who have completed Unsung Heroes projects count them among their most meaningful and memorable academic and teaching experiences, and an invaluable investment of their time. Unsung Heroes provide positive role models, in turn transforming students themselves into role models. For educators, the opportunity to positively impact their students through a shared discovery process creates lasting change in individuals, schools, communities and the world.
“The 21st century skills that we’re trying to teach our students – collaboration, cooperation and creativity – these are all embodied in Unsung Heroes projects. In each of the projects, student are taking ownership of their own learning. More importantly, in all of these projects the motivation is for people to better understand each other. I don’t think there’s anything more valuable that we can teach our children than being able to understand fellow human beings more fully.”Marguerite Izzo, 5th Grade Teacher at Davisson Avenue Intermediate School (NY) & 2103 LMC Fellow
“The impact of Unsung Heroes builds throughout the year – understanding, empathy, kindness. It causes students to ask, ‘What is going to be your footprint in this world? Are you going to take or give? Build people up or tear them down?’ It teaches them to do their best to positively impact others; do the right thing; be a contributor.”Suzanne Scotten, 8th Grade Teacher at EV Cain Middle School (CA) & 2013 LMC Fellow
“An Unsung Heroes project can have a ripple effect on a community. It starts with one person assembling a team of people who choose a medium to honor an individual exhibiting courage and integrity. By sharing and presenting the project, the Unsung Hero can continue to exponentially impact individuals and entire communities.”Stephanie Bishop, Assistant Principal at J.E.J. Moore Middle School (VA) & 2011 LMC Fellow