Sparkman teacher brings history to life for her students

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- On Tuesday, a Madison County school teacher made history come to life for her students. In an effort to create a hands on learning experience, she brought together the "Voices of Service".

Sparkman High School teacher Erin Coggins wants to give the students in her history classes some personal accounts, instead of just reading about them.

"I came up with this idea if we could get enough local veterans to come in one on one with the kids. We're going to get their story, do an interview, write the story, and we're going to put it on a website we've created called Voices of Service," she said.

She said at first, her students were extremely nervous about speaking with the veterans.

"They're really excited though to sit down face to face with someone and get living history.  We don't use textbooks so this is a really great way for them to get excited about history," she explained.

Coggins wants to make sure everyone who showed up gets their stories told, and the credit they deserve. A lot of the veterans that came are Vietnam veterans, and she thinks for them it's long overdue.

"My goal in my class is to get kids to become historians. I want them to forever tell someone else's story, not just learn facts," she said.

Eleventh grader Alysa Eppling is looking forward to interviewing her grandfather who served during Vietnam. She said she prefers this way of learning.

"It's a lot easier because we get to talk more than when you're just reading out of a textbook and having to do work out of one," she said.

And it's something Coggins hopes spreads throughout classrooms everywhere.

From Tuesday's interviews with the veterans, the students will compile them into a project that will be put on the Voices of Service website. Anyone will be able to access them at that point.