Franklin on Foot owner Margie Thessin was recently honored during the 16th annual Shining Apple Awards ceremony for her work with Winstead Elementary in conjunction with The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County. The awards, sponsored by the Williamson County School District and Williamson County YMCA Fun Company, celebrate the top volunteers from each school in the district for their dedication to enhanced student learning.
Thessin worked through the Heritage Foundation’s Heritage Classroom program to develop and lead a daylong course for the Winstead students that focused on life during the Battle of Franklin for elementary-age children. A team of school administrators and board members chose this year’s Shining Apple honorees.
“The program was geared around life in occupied Franklin during the war, a three-year period when the town was under martial law,” Thessin said. “It was a time of great turmoil, terror and for some folks, hope that slavery might end.”
Each year, the Heritage Foundation funds a grant that supports the Heritage Classroom program in public, private and home schools across the county. Over the course of 35 years, the free program has introduced thousands of students to Franklin’s rich historical legacy. General programs include Where We Live, The Battle of Franklin, Andrew Jackson Comes to Franklin, Thingamajiggies (period objects and their uses) and the downtown Classic Franklin walking tour.
Thessin was the Heritage Classroom teacher from 1998 to 2004 and recently returned to the position. This is Thessin’s first Shining Apple award.
“This is such a tremendous honor,” Thessin said. “I applaud the Heritage Foundation and its members for supporting this program for so many years. I’m passionate about this type of education and the Heritage Classroom programs engage children in meaningful ways that help them understand their history.”
Thessin is currently writing a historical novel for children that will focus on the lives of Franklin children during the Civil War in Franklin. Familiar Franklin names such as McEwen, Courtney, McGavock, Lotz, Carter, Cliffe and Figuers play roles in the novel, which is based on memoirs and remembrances of the actual children. Lizzie’s War will be published in the fall and will expand on the tour company owner’s efforts to aid student learning.
Franklin on Foot offers guided walking tours of historic Franklin, including Classic Franklin, Civil War, Haunted Franklin, Ghosts of the Battlefield, Murder and Mayhem, Grave Matters, Southern-style Food Tours and Bike Tours & Rentals. For more information on Franklin on Foot, visit www.franklinonfoot.com or call 615-400-3808.
The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving our historic resources in Franklin and Williamson County, Tennessee. For more information, visit www.historicfranklin.com.
Photo: Franklin on Foot’s Margie Thessin speaks to Winstead Elementary students about life for Franklin children during the Civil War.