The Samantha Smith Challenge

Samantha Smith Portrait by Robert Shetterly


Educating Curious, Courageous, and Engaged Citizens

November 12 NOTICE: Get the 2020-2021 Guidelines here! 


The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is a dynamic educational program for Maine middle and high school students that uses art to to build a bridge between the classroom and the world to create curious, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them.

SSC 2020-2021: Show US Who You Are

As Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) reflects on the past year and looks forward to the months ahead, we are asking students this year to focus on one of three critical themes - racial equity, climate change, and health care

The Samantha Smith Challenge for 2020-2021 asks students to examine racial equity, climate change, or health care and use their voices , take action, and Show US Who You Are. AWTT portrait subjects model how the beliefs, voices, and actions of youth can influence important social justice issues. Check out: 

AWTT portrait of Zyahna BryantKelsey Juliana
Zyahna Bryant
Claudette Colvin
Becci Ingram
Rachel Corrie
Barbara Johns
LeAlan Jones
Nicole and Jonas Maines
Chloe Maxmin
and, of course, Samantha Smith

Be like Them!  Show US Who You Are! 

Students (2019 SSC)
"This project changed our lives!"
Carson Brown, student (SSC 2019)
"Hope is power, power is hope. The Samantha Smith Challenge helped me feelpowerful and hopeful."
Tristan Green, student (SSC 2019)
"The Samantha Smith Challenge inspiredus to take action on these issues that have been going on for decades and inspired us not to be couch potatoes."
Teacher from SSC 2018-2019
"SSC provides students opportunities to participate in genuine learning and create authentic products. It provides them with real reasonsto participate in their schooling."
Teacher, 2019 SSC
"We were able to connect with two truth tellers this year. These interviews really made a huge difference for the students who were able to participate in them."
Mary Ellen Tracy
I teach at one of the schools which Samantha Smith attended. Because of this, when I heard about thisSamantha Smith Challenge (click to sign up your students)I was excited to learn more.
David Hilton
I know my time with my students will have been worthwhile if, at the end of our class, each child has grown as a citizen. I want my students to learn to be aware, empathetic, and active. The Samantha Smith Challengefits right into this approach.
Adele Drake
Robert Shetterly's portraits cut to the chase in a compelling way. Students could access the profound sentiments that these portraits represent.
Dr. Elisa Díaz-Martínez
Robert’s Americans Who Tell the Truth has become a distinctive and profound way of teaching American History and American Thought...His work will help us advance towards common understanding and tolerance.
Karyn Field
During the 2013/2014 school year, teachers Karyn Field and Sharyn Hastings used the AWTT portraits and resources to help students analyze "themes related to scapegoating, intolerance and social strife." Students wrote poems, orchestrated press conference
Laurie Solchenberger
I am a special and regular educator in Madison, WI. My students used your images to discuss how some people choose to do amazing things with their lives: some in big ways, some in small ways, but always by finding something they believe in.
Kristen Zoeller
Finally, I was shown people of all backgrounds who had made a difference; finally, I found people who were so normal, who I could relate to, and yet were so profound. Suddenly, there was no more excuse.

SSC Guidelines

Includes resources, classroom activities, and a detailed step-by-step guide to participating in the 2020-2021 SSC

View the Guidelines here

SSC Standards

Many teachers want to know how the SSC fits with standards. Nancy Doda, PhD, has compiled a list of "Power Standards" addressed by SSC activities.

Download the SSC guide to educational standards

SSC Registration

E.g. Jane Doe
E.g. 4th grade, 5th grade, etc.
Approximate number of students participating
If you see this, leave this form field blank.

SSC Individual Registration

E.g. Jane Doe
E.g. 4th grade, 5th grade, etc.
If you see this, leave this form field blank.