Money & Careers

Sandy Wilbur, a Woman Who Is Making a Difference

That was the beginning of Sandy’s music-history project. In the next two years she created two more stirring anthems, one with sixth-grader Malachi and the girls as fourth graders: “Four Score and Seven Years Ago,” which incorporates part of the Gettysburg Address and teaches about the Civil War, Lincoln, and equality for all Americans; and “She Still Carries a Torch,” about the Statue of Liberty’s welcome of immigrants, sung by the girls as fifth graders. Sandy feels passionately that these historical moments have great relevance today in a country of immigrants facing an ongoing immigrant crisis, a country with ever-widening inequality.

She is searching for other historical moments that have relevance today, and is always happy to hear feedback. In fact, she has received a great deal of feedback from teachers and students alike, some of which informed the videos in both “Four Score” and “She Still Carries a Torch.”  Having found both the cinematographer and video editor from Ken Burns’s production company, she created, at teachers’ request, three video versions for these two anthems, one with the kids in the studio interspersed with relevant historical footage; another that is documentary only, with the full sung song so kids can sing along and learn the song; and one with the instrumental version so kids can perform the song while the video is playing simultaneously.

Teachers also asked that she provide a full package for schools to use across the curriculum. Her recently completed 96-page book Learning History Through Music fulfills that request.  In addition to three sections, each of which contains historical highlights, core-aligned lesson plans for fourth through eighth grades, lyrics and sheet music for the songs, she has included all eight videos and three CDs with both instrumental and sung versions of each anthem.

How can schools use the songs to teach history? They can buy, for a special price of $59, this entire book /package. Teachers can also buy some of the individual items online.  Her dream is to get the backing of a corporate sponsor, so that all at-risk public schools can have the book/package (which they cannot afford even at this very low, below-cost price). Parents or PTA groups can also buy the book/package and donate it to their school of choice.  Sandy donated her time, energy, and finances to undertake this project and feels strongly that this is something that would truly benefit both education and our democratic process.

During this election year, Sandy has had many requests from campaign organizations to use “We the People,” including an inquiry from a representative of one of the top-ranked presidential candidates.  She turned the requests down, because she wants this song to represent all the people, not just those related to one party, ideology, or political persuasion. However, since it has touched so many people, Sandy would be willing to offer the song free (with her approval; contact [email protected] for permission) to appropriate educational, nonprofit, and social and broadcast media outlets that share Sandy’s desire to have a better-informed electorate.

The kids in the studio performing “We the People.”

 “I have learned so much from the teachers and students who have found these materials online and given me feedback,” Sandy says. “The book is the final step. I learned from teachers that they wanted something for the whole school…so the songs can be used by English teachers, social studies and history teachers, principals, whoever . . . not just music teachers. They can show the videos that come with the book, so the students in the whole school can get engaged, learn more about these important subjects, and start dialogs across the curriculum.”

They learn, and the inspirational words stay with them. As anyone who has ever sung a song knows, any message that comes with a melody stays engraved in memory over decades. “That was the idea—to get it ingrained. Kids come to me years later and sing the songs for me,” Sandy acknowledges with pride. “They can’t get it out of their heads.”


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  • Sandy Wilbur April 6, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks, Suzon. That’s a great suggestion. I will look into it! Sandy Wilbur

  • Suzon Schulz March 3, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Great story, great song! How about looking into Susan B. Anthony and the early Women’s Movement to get the vote for another song , boys can sing about that too.