Presidential and Congressional Academies Come to a Successful Conclusion

Aug 14, 2019

The Center for Civic Education has concluded a very successful civics and history education training academy, held July 7–20, 2019, at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, providing teachers and students from across the nation with an enriching experience as well as memories that will last a lifetime.

This educational initiative is the first year of a grant the Center received from the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a series of institutes of Presidential Academies for teachers and Congressional Academies for high need-students. Throughout the two weeks, the participants were immersed in the study of constitutional history and principles the of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum led by leading scholars and mentor teachers.  Presidential Academy teachers received high-quality professional development in core concepts of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as well as interactive methodology. Congressional Academy students also received high-quality interactive instruction in history and civics that paralleled the professional development for teachers.

Opportunities were built into the agenda for the students and teachers to interact and share experiences about their learning. For example, the history and civics instruction was linked to trips for both teachers and students to National Park Service sites, such as Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and Gettysburg. The Gettysburg trip correlated with scholarly presentations on the history and significance of the Civil War Amendments. The participants also traveled to George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Washington, D.C., where they had time to visit the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian museums and meet with their members of Congress. Each location was conducive to thoughtful lectures, discussions, and individual and collaborative work.

The Academies concluded with all teachers and students participating in a simulated congressional hearing to showcase their knowledge. Engagement among teachers and students will be ongoing as they participate in online discussion forums during the school year. The Center developed these forums to allow for continued peer conversation as participants engage in history and civics activities at their respective schools. Four webinars will be offered during the year that will extend the teachers’ professional development and benefit students and the general public.

The positive outcomes from the Academies can best be expressed in the words of the participants:
Students from all over the country participated in collaborative civic learning while at the Congressional Academy.
Students from all over the country participated in collaborative civic learning while at the Congressional Academy.
 
“I was always more of a math and science person, but now I have an equal passion for history.”—Congressional Academy student “This academy is a grand slam from the students’ perspective and the teachers’ perspective! The dynamic taking place between the teachers and between the students and all the combinations thereof has made for and continues to make for the most powerful, engaging and valuable seminar that I have been to in my thirty-year career.”—Presidential Academy participant
To hear more about the academies in the voices of the participants, please view this video.
For more information on the Academies please go to www.civiced.org/academies. Also, take a look at the hundreds of photos in our Flickr album.

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