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Teachers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington Receive American Civic Education Teacher Awards

CONTACT: John Hale, 818-591-9321, hale@civiced.org; Maria Gallo, 818-591-9321, gallo@civiced.org


LOS ANGELES — Teachers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington are recipients of the 2014 American Civic Education Teacher Awards, recognizing their exemplary work preparing young people to become informed and engaged citizens. The ACETA winners are John Dickson of Harwich (Mass.) High School; Natalie O'Brien of North Smithfield (R.I.) High School; and Jennifer Reidel of Lynden (Wash.) High School.

The awards are given annually to teachers of civics, government and related subjects who have demonstrated exceptional expertise, dynamism and creativity in motivating students to learn about the Constitution, Congress and public policy.

ACETA is sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, the Center on Congress at Indiana University, and the National Education Association.

Charles N. Quigley, executive director of the Center for Civic Education, praised Dickson, O'Brien and Reidel for their dedication to helping young people learn the information and skills necessary to participate as effective and responsible citizens. "We are grateful for all these teachers do to ensure that each succeeding generation understands the principles and values of our representative democracy," Quigley said.

Lee Hamilton, director of the Center on Congress, said that the awardees "inspire us with their passion for spurring students to contribute to community and country. To thrive, our political system needs conscientious citizens. These teachers give their all to see that students embrace their civic obligations and are motivated to participate constructively."

"Civic education is a key component of ensuring our nation's students and America as a whole advances in the 21st century," said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. "The ACETA teachers are to be commended for arming students with the keys to preserving and improving self-government and setting a shining example of the professionalism and excellence demonstrated in classrooms across the country every day."

The three awardees share a passion for explaining democracy and citizenship in an engaging way and helping young people see that what goes on in local, state and federal government is relevant to their lives.

In his self-portrait essay, John Dickson wrote that he builds his classes around "participatory and authentic learning. The goal is to get students involved in politics, not just to study. My approach has been to make our class as active as possible. We conduct exit polls and attitude surveys, organize legislative debates, host guest speakers, and create model congresses, cabinets, and court hearings. These activities allow students to experience government in order to teach them why it is so important in their lives." Dickson graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in government, and he earned a master's in education from Lesley University. He has been teaching for 20 years. He is an active community leader on Cape Cod, currently serving as chair of the Brewster Board of Selectmen.

Natalie O'Brien wrote that she seeks to "enhance students' knowledge of important historical, political and constitutional issues by engaging in mini-debates, simulations and circle discussions. I hear from parents that although my class is demanding, their child LOVES it. In room 218, students are knowledgeable enough about the U.S. Constitution and modern politics to know that their opinions are worth listening to and are respected. Every time I discuss politics with my students, I am encouraged about the future of my community, state and nation." A graduate of Providence College with a bachelor's degree in history and secondary education, O'Brien earned a master's in East Asian studies from St. John's University and a master's in political science from the University of Rhode Island. She has been teaching for 13 years.

Jennifer Reidel wrote that she works to provide "relevant, rigorous, and engaging civics instruction" that challenges her pupils to "practice active democratic skills of deliberation and compromise." Her class re-enacts the Constitutional Convention of 1787, so "students are given context for contemporary disputes relating to constitutional interpretation." She does not shy away from "passionate disagreements" in class discussions and noted that one of her key goals is to help students understand "the intricacies and challenges of governing effectively in a democracy." She added, "A democracy is only as vibrant as the opportunities afforded to its disenfranchised members. It is essential for traditionally marginalized groups to be equipped to advocate for their rights." Reidel holds bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Western Washington University. She has been teaching for 18 years.

Each year the ACETA program selects and showcases three teachers whose students represent the diversity of the American public- and private-school systems. Applicants must be full-time classroom teachers of grades K–12. There is no fee to apply. Applicants must submit a two-page self-portrait essay, their resume, and three letters of recommendation—two from teaching peers and one from their school principal.

With the recognition this year of Dickson, O'Brien and Reidel, the ACETA program has now honored 27 teachers since the awards were first given in 2006
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 (Press Release) June 4, 2014

 
Senate Passes Cardin, Grassley Resolution Supporting Civic Education

Resolution Calls for Increased Prioritization of Civic Education in American Public Schools

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan resolution sponsored by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) calls for increased prioritization of civic education in American public schools. Senate Resolution 427 received the unanimous approval of the U.S. Senate on April 29.

The Cardin-Grassley resolution encourages elementary and secondary schools to adopt programs and curricula that have demonstrated effectiveness in fostering civic competence, civic responsibility, and a reasoned commitment to the fundamental values and principles underlying the constitutional government of the United States. The resolution also calls for all teachers of civics and government to have access to adequate opportunities to enrich teaching through professional development programs to enrich their teaching capacity.

 (Press Release) May 1, 2014

 
Lincoln High School Students Place First in Nationwide Championship on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights

WASHINGTON — After three days of simulated congressional hearings that tested their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, Lincoln High School students from Portland, Oregon, captured first place at the 27th Annual We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution National Finals.

CONTACT: Mark Molli, Center for Civic Education

 (Press Release) April 28, 2014

 
Center for Civic Education and Share My Lesson to Give Away Free Textbooks

LOS ANGELES — The Center for Civic Education and Share My Lesson today announced a promotion to give away a free set of We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution textbooks. A winner will be chosen at random from teachers registering by December 31, 2013, at www.ShareMyLesson.com/cce. The winner can choose a classroom set of the new We the People enhanced ebook or a set of We the People upper elementary, middle school, or high school textbooks.


 (Press Release) November 12, 2013

 
New Ebooks Distribution Partnership Seeks to Increase Knowledge of Constitution

 LOS ANGELES — The Center for Civic Education, the most prominent name in civic education, today launched a partnership with global education leader Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to distribute ebook editions of We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, a series of internationally acclaimed civics textbooks for upper elementary, middle, and high school students (watch video).

 (Press Release) September 17, 2013

 
New Ebook Brings Civic Education Into the Digital Age: We the People Now Available As an Enhanced Ebook
LOS ANGELES—We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, an internationally acclaimed civics textbook for high school students, is now available as a Web-based enhanced ebook that can be read on nearly any device, including Macs and PCs, Apple iPads and iPhones, Android tablets and smart phones, and Windows 8 touch-screen devices.
 
 
John Hale Receives 2013 Roy Erickson Civic Education Leadership Award
LOS ANGELES—John Hale was presented recently with the Roy Erickson Civic Education Leadership Award—an honor bestowed annually on civic education leaders who promote or implement civic learning in California schools. Hale received the award Saturday, March 9, at the 52nd Annual California Council for the Social Studies Conference in Burlingame, a yearly meeting attended by more than 800 history and social science educators from around California.
 
 
Kurdish Parliamentarians in Los Angeles on Civic Education Fact-Finding Trip
LOS ANGELES—The Center for Civic Education is hosting a delegation of three members of parliament of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq, from September 20 to October 8, 2012. The parliamentarians are members of the Committee on Education and Higher Education. The objectives of the delegation are to learn about civic education policies and practices in the United States, to experience the U.S. educational system, and to consider next steps for reinvigorating and sustaining civic education in Kurdistan.
 
 
Teachers from Indiana, Arizona and Utah Receive American Civic Education Teacher Awards
Kevin Cline, Jaime Festa-Daigle, and Richard Ochoa received the 2012 American Civic Education Teacher Awards, which recognizes their exemplary work preparing young people to become informed and engaged citizens. 
 
The ACETA Awards are given annually to elementary and secondary teachers of civics, government and related subjects who have demonstrated exceptional expertise, dynamism and creativity in motivating students to learn about the Constitution, Congress and public policy.
 
ACETA is sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, the Center on Congress at Indiana University, and the National Education Association.
 
 
Lincoln High School Students Place First in Nationwide Championship on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights
April 30, 2012

CONTACT: 
Robert Leming or Maria Gallo: 818-591-9321

LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS PLACE FIRST IN NATIONWIDE CHAMPIONSHIP
ON THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND BILL OF RIGHTS

Washington, D.C. - After three days of simulated congressional hearings that tested their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, Lincoln High School students captured first place at the 25th Anniversary We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution National Finals.

Tim Swinehart coaches the Lincoln High School class, whose members include: Avery Ballato, Catherine Barton, Marty Berger, Hallie Blashfield, Ryan Bloom, Danny Brillhart, John Carey, Julian Dann, Julia Eckelmann, Michael Field, Natina Gilbert, Nikhil Goyal, Kendra Hong, Robin Jayaswal, Katie Kelly, Sierra Killian, John Kim, Emma Lane, Duncan MacEachern, William Mao, Olnita Martini, Evan Neuhausen, Sara Newman, Vicki Niu, Sammy Purnell, Justin Richter, Beckett Rueda, Emma Simmons, Sage Smiley, Nita Sridharan, Eri Stern, Mara Strauss, Molly Walls, Carolyn Wheatley, Ajeya Woods, Cole Zollinger.

Classes representing 47 states, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands came to the nation's capital to participate in the academic competition. Lincoln High School of Portland, Oregon, won first place.

The competition results were announced at an awards ceremony Monday evening before an audience of more than 1,400 students, teachers, coordinators, judges and other program participants. 

[A LIST OF ALL TWENTY-TWO AWARD WINNERS FOLLOWS. PHOTOS AVAILABLE AT http://new.civiced.org/finals-2012-photos]

During the competition, students demonstrated their knowledge of the Constitution before simulated congressional committees made up of state supreme court judges, constitutional scholars, lawyers, public officials and We the People alumni. The first rounds of the hearings took place on Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29. Today, the top-10 schools competed in actual congressional hearing rooms on Capitol Hill.

The panel of judges tested the expertise of the classes on the six units of the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution textbook: What Are the Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System? How Did the Framers Create the Constitution? How Has the Constitution Been Changed to Further the Ideals Contained in the Declaration of Independence? How Have the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices? What Rights Does the Bill of Rights Protect? and What Challenges Might Face American Constitutional Democracy in the Twenty-first Century?

More information on the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program is available at http://new.civiced.org/programs/wtp.

NATIONAL WINNER:  
Lincoln High School, Portland, Oregon

SECOND PLACE:
Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies, Richmond, Virginia

THIRD PLACE:
Arcadia High School, Arcadia, California

FOURTH PLACE:
East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, New Jersey

FIFTH PLACE:
Munster High School, Munster, Indiana 

SIXTH PLACE:
Denver East High School, Denver, Colorado

SEVENTH PLACE:
Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Miami, Florida 

EIGHTH PLACE:
Vestavia Hills High School, Vestavia Hills, Alabama

NINTH PLACE:
Northwest Guilford High School, Greensboro, North Carolina

TENTH PLACE:
Tahoma Senior High School, Covington, Washington

WINNERS OF UNIT AWARDS
(BEST NON-FINALIST TEAM FOR EXPERTISE IN EACH UNIT OF COMPETITION)

UNIT 1 (The Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System): Centennial High School, Bakersfield, California
UNIT 2 (How the Framers Created the Constitution): Sky View High School, Smithfield, Utah
UNIT 3 (How Changes in the Constitution Have Furthered the Ideas in the Declaration of Independence): Milford High School, Milford, New Hampshire
UNIT 4 (How the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices): Lincoln East High School, Lincoln, Nebraska
UNIT 5 (The Rights That the Bill of Rights Protects): Wauwatosa West High School, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
UNIT 6 (Twenty-first Century Challenges to American Constitutional Democracy): Marshwood High School, South Berwick, Maine

WINNERS OF REGIONAL AWARDS
(BEST NON-FINALIST TEAM FROM EACH REGION)

Western States: Incline High School, Incline Village, Nevada
Mountain/Plains States: Cheyenne Central High School, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Central States: East Grand Rapids High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Southeastern States: Chamblee Charter High School, Atlanta, Georgia
Northeastern States: Trumbull High School, Trumbull, Connecticut

THE GEORGE MASON AWARD WINNER
(Class with highest score on question about George Mason)
Northwest Guilford High School, Greensboro, North Carolina

 
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