The National Liberty Museum celebrated its 14th annual Teacher as Hero Award sponsored by State Farm® with a Virtual Awards Ceremony on Saturday, September 24. The ceremony honored 10 inspiring teachers who make a difference in the lives of their students. To mark the occasion, State Farm Representatives, National Liberty Museum leadership, friends and family gathered via Zoom to celebrate the accomplishments of these exceptional educators. It is our pleasure to announce this year’s honorees.


Congratulations to the 2020 Honorees

Virginia Barbarin
Teacher of African American History
Seba Enrichment Academy, West Chester, PA
  1. Learn about Virginia Barbarin

    Virginia Barbarin teaches Middle School African American History at Chester County’s Seba Enrichment Academy. With humor and compassion, Barbarin serves as a mentor or tutor to many students, often providing supplies to those at need at her own expense. Her lessons inspire her students and encourage them to strive for excellence as they learn about their history, even if it is hard to face unpleasant truths about the history of slavery.

Andrew Coates
5th Grade Teacher
Overlook Elementary School, Abington, PA
  1. Learn about Andrew Coates

    Andrew Coates is a fifth-grade teacher at Overlook Elementary School in Abington, Pa. His gift and passion for teaching makes each student feel special and successful. Making full and creative use of a plethora of internet resources, his daily teaching grounds his students in exposure to and understanding of current technologies.

Kelly Espinoza, good neighbor award
Kindergarten Teacher
Musselman Learning Center, Norristown, PA
  1. Learn about Kelly Espinoza

    Kelly Espinoza is a Kindergarten teach at Montgomery County’s Musselman Learning Center. After a devastating fire killed a student from the school, Espinoza galvanized the school community and the local fire department to distribute and install free smoke detectors for Norristown citizens. Inspired by this success, she spearheaded an annual school fire safety education night where fire prevention education and risk education strategies were provided to the children and their parents.

Sofia Gonzalez
11th Grade English Teacher
Morton East High School, Cicero, IL
  1. Learn about Sofia Gonzales

    Sofia Gonzalez is an 11th grade English Teacher whose boundless energy is evident not only in her classroom but also in her guidance of student club activities. One of these is an activity called “Snowball,” which is designed to help students begin or continue to live a healthy lifestyle.

Paul Larrea
Science/STEM Teacher, Grades 6-8
Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School, Maple Glen, PA
  1. Learn about Paul Larrea

    The Director of STEM education and a member of the Student Safety Committee of the school’s Governance Board, Larrea infuses high levels of content and educational strategies with humor and profound respect for each child. Known for innovation, creativity and a keen knowledge of best practices that ignite his students, he is engaging in ways that help even the most reluctant learners become more focused and involved in their own education.

Jennifer Morris
English as a Second Language, K-8th Grade
Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary, Kensington, PA
  1. Learn about Jennifer Morris

    Concerned that their Hispanic population lacked a specific cultural connection to the school, Morris decided to incorporate Hispanic culture into everyday school activities by conducting part of the daily announcements in Spanish. She expanded this first step of inclusion into a month-long Hispanic Heritage Program, incorporating cultural awareness with educationally relevant lessons. She also created a Hispanic Heritage Career Expo and Carnival De Bethune, an activity where students were immersed in Hispanic culture with food, games, crafts and a student-made Heritage Museum.

Sasha Singh
10-12th Grade Automotive Technology
Jules Mastbaum High School, Philadelphia, PA
  1. Learn about Sasha Singh

    A 12-year veteran teacher of 10-12th grade Automotive Technology at Jules Mastbaum High School, Sasha Singh creates an environment of trust and partnership with his students. His active volunteerism for Hispanic community events inspires his students to participate in community service activities both in school and in their neighborhoods. His former students are still motivated by his example and many return to the school to participate in the Occupational Advisory Committee and as mentors for his current students.

Melissa Tracy, caring classroom award
10th-12th Grade History, Geography & Food Studies
Odyssey Charter School, Wilmington, DE
  1. Learn about Melissa Tracy

    Nominated by a three-year student, Tracy has incorporated her passion for activism into her teaching. Advocating for a more green school campus, she encouraged her AP Human Geography class to meet with Delaware legislators and successfully lobby for a ban on single-use plastic bags. Tracy also developed a school garden with the Environmental Club, culminating in the donation of 1,000 pounds of fresh vegetables thus far to various local food banks and shelters.

Katherine Villone, top exceptional teacher
4th Grade Teacher 
Franklin Elementary School, Bergenfield, NJ
  1. Learn about Katherine Villone

    Katherine Villone is a 4th grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School in Bergenfield, NJ. She was recognized for her dedicated acts of kindness and compassion, and for her ability to mentor and build up every child she meets. During the pandemic, Villone has continuously focused on her students’ well-being, holding numerous virtual game nights and Zoom calls to keep spirits high. She visited each of her students with birthday surprises and made sure they were doing well, serving as a role model, friend and inspiration at these challenging times.

Elizabeth Williams
Teacher of African American History
Central High School, Philadelphia, PA
  1. Learn about Elizabeth Williams

    A teacher of African American history at Central High School, Williams engages her students by making sure they are learning in a way that speaks to their needs as students from multiple cultural backgrounds. Before the pandemic, Williams coached the school’s basketball team, sponsored the Black Youth Coalition, and worked with students to create a school fashion show. When the school closed for the pandemic, she was one of the first teachers to support the students’ participation in a virtual history class.



Fall is for kids and Families
at the NLM.

The NLM offers a full calendar of virtual and on-site programs for kids and their families. We invite you to join us as we explore the themes of respect, taking action and spreading liberty to all.

Check out our exciting list of upcoming events for the fall.

Four Paths to Better Policing
An Interactive Virtual Public Dialogue
Monday, November 1, 2021; 7-9 pm on Zoom

Everyone has a vested interest in issues surrounding policing in our communities. We invite you to hear experts in the field and the community briefly outline four different paths to better public safety. After you hear from our experts, go deeper with fellow citizens, sharing your experiences and viewpoints in moderated small groups.

Find complete information here.

Art that acts as Social Commentary

The Graphic Content exhibition features graphic-centered artworks that take inspiration from counterculture tradition and give voice to those outside the mainstream. It features works that embody the artists' personal reflections on the current social and political climate.

The exhibition is on view through November 7, 2021
Learn more and purchase your Museum tickets now.

The artform of cartooning celebrates diversity, liberty, and inclusion

As a companion piece to the Graphic Content Exhibition, the NLM has brought back select pieces from Caretoons, a popular annual exhibition/competition that ran from 2005-2010. Through drawings submitted by children, as well as amateur and professional artists from around the world, the images in Caretoons grapple with contemporary issues through the approachable lens of cartoons and graphic art.

Click here to learn more and purchase your Museum tickets.

An exhibition celebrating NLM Award Winners

Since the NLM’s founding, a major component of our work has been our series of annual awards programs honoring the everyday heroes who live among us. This exhibition celebrates teachers, students, police officers, firefighters & first-responders, and healthcare professionals who have demonstrated extraordinary courage and made a difference in the lives of others.

Click here to learn more and purchase Museum tickets.

Events at NLM

The NLM hosts a robust calendar of programs and events for adults, from thought-provoking panel discussions to fun and engaging tours and workshops.

To see upcoming events, click here.

For special evening adult programs, visit NLM@Night.

Virtual Guided Group Tours now available

Here's a great way to enjoy the NLM. Our staff will lead you on a virtual tour of the Museum, as they explain our history, our mission, and our special exhibitions. We offer a range of virtual guided tour themes or we can customize a tour specifically for your group.

You'll find complete information here.

Support the Next Generation of Heroes

Each school year, we send NLM educators directly into Philadelphia’s most underserved schools to teach students critical leadership skills, such as courage, integrity, responsibility, respect, and most important, empathy. We show them that they have the power through their First Amendment Rights to use these skills to make positive changes in their school and community.

Help us continue to bring this program to as many students as possible.
Click here to donate now.

Police officers, firefighters, and other emergency responders are honored

The National Liberty Museum celebrated its 15th annual Awards of Valor, presented by Your Local Chevrolet Dealers, via a virtual ceremony on Tuesday, December 8, 2020. The event included several notable keynote speakers and was attended by the honorees, their families and colleagues,

Learn more here about their impressive and inspirational stories.

NLM Honors Medical Professionals

The National Liberty Museum is proud to host its annual Healthcare Heroes Awards, presented by Teva Pharmaceuticals. This international awards program recognizes inspirational heroes in healthcare research and treatment whose accomplishments have profoundly benefited their patients, their field, and the global community.

The 2020 Awards Ceremony was held virtually on December 3.
Click here to learn about the honorees.

NLM honors 14 inspiring students from across the country

The National Liberty Museum celebrated its 20th annual TD Bank Young Heroes Awards with a Virtual Awards Ceremony on Saturday, September 12. The ceremony honored 14 inspiring students, ages 18 and younger, who identified an area where liberty was lacking and took action to make positive change in their local schools or communities.

Learn about these amazing young people here.