April 2022 Newsletter

News from the Center for Civic Education

We the People National Finals Begin April 22, Dr. Donna Phillips Joins the Center, Project Citizen Institutes Available This Summer, and More in This Month's Newsletter.

We the People National Finals Begin April 22

National Finals Banner

The We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution National Finals will begin on Friday, April 22, with "We the People: An Annual Leadership Summit on Civic Education," a webinar featuring representatives from leading civic education organizations, who will discuss the present and future of civics. Forty-seven classes from across the country will take part in the online We the People National Finals, made possible in part by support from T-Mobile. "We are looking forward to the thoughtful testimony by students on the fundamental principles of American governance and contemporary issues facing American constitutionalism," said Robert S. Leming, National Director of the We the People Programs, who is retiring at the end of the National Finals after 24 years of service. National Finals hearings will take place on Saturday, April 23, and Sunday, April 24, with the final round on Monday, April 25. The National Invitational for middle school classes will take place April 29-May 2.

Learn more

Robert Leming

A Special Thanks to Robert Leming

Robert Leming, national director of the We the People Programs, will be retiring this month after the We the People National Finals. Leming has served the Center for 24 years, having joined the organization from his previous position as the Indiana state coordinator. "Bob has been a vital member of the Center for Civic Education team for decades," said Christopher R. Riano, the Center's president. "He's demonstrated leadership and resilience, greatly expanding the program's reach and successfully guiding We the People through the challenge of a pandemic. His work has touched thousands of students over the years, and our democracy is stronger thanks to his dedication."

Donna Phillips

Introducing Dr. Donna Phillips

We are excited to welcome Donna Phillips, Ph.D. to the Center for Civic Education team as Vice President and Chief Program Officer! Dr. Phillips has participated in We the People for more than 20 years, serving as a We the People teacher, district coordinator and mentor, and the District of Columbia state coordinator. Before joining the Center, she was the Director of Academic Innovations for D.C. Public Schools and the Social Studies Curriculum Manager, where she spearheaded the development of C3 inquiry and social justice–aligned K-12 social studies curriculum. "The Center's programs have transformed so many teachers' and students' civic dispositions, including my own. I am thrilled to join the Center at this pivotal time to continue to strengthen our democracy through impactful civic and constitutional education."

American Civic Education Teacher Award Application

Coming Soon: The American Civic Education Teacher Award Application!

In partnership with the Center on Representative Government at Indiana University and the National Education Association, the Center is excited to once again offer our network an opportunity to honor our outstanding civic educators. Check the American Civic Education Teacher Award website for the application launch next week. Applications will close May 16 and winners will be announced by June 1.

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Project Citizen Teacher Institute

Join a Project Citizen Teacher Institute this Summer!

Free professional development is offered this summer to middle and high school teachers new to the Project Citizen curricular program! The Center's regional partners will host interactive summer institutes and academic-year follow up. To learn more about the Project Citizen Research Program and how you can participate, visit the Center's Project Citizen Professional Development webpage and contact your state's Project Citizen coordinator.

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Project Citizen for Women and Younger Offenders

Middlesex County House of Correction to Host Programs on Project Citizen for Women and Younger Offenders

Middlesex County House of Correction in Billerica, Massachusetts, is expanding its modified version of the Project Citizen program following its success last year. The facility's administration now plans to run three separate Project Citizen programs this spring and summer. The first of these programs, which started in early April, is being run in a new women's pre-release center. At least one of the remaining two programs will be run in a special unit for younger, first-time offenders.

These first-in-the-nation programs promote competent and responsible participation in community affairs and government.

Kelley Brown

We the People Teacher Honored with Outstanding Teacher of American History Award

This March, Kelley Brown, a teacher at Easthampton High School, was awarded the Massachusetts State Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Award for Outstanding Teacher of American History. At the ceremony, the DAR also announced that Brown will receive the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution award for Outstanding Teacher of American History at their National Convention in Washington D.C., on June 30. At the award ceremony, Brown shared that she feels that the We the People "program is, by far, the most important thing I do, evidenced by the many students that return from college to help me each year." Congratulations to this extraordinary teacher!

Quick Quiz! Abraham Lincoln lost the Illinois senatorial election in 1858 to which of his political opponents, an individual he would later defeat to win the U.S. presidency in 1860?

A. James Polk
B. Stephen Douglas
C. James Buchanan
D. Andrew Johnson

Read on to learn the answer!

Retro Report

Two We the People Teachers Serve on Retro Report Council of Educators

Retro Report is a documentary news organization that creates resources for educators to use in their classrooms to teach about important historical and current events. Now, two We the People teachers, Trish Everett and Ashley Vascik, are serving on the recently created Retro Report Council of Educators.

This 20-member council will advise the organization on its content, make videos and lesson plans for teachers, and pilot and evaluate resources in classroom settings. Vascik shared that "I knew I had to be part of the amazing things this organization is doing and is planning to do," adding that "this organization understands and values the support and work of educators."

Retro Report offers nonpartisan educational resources that help students become more active and engaged citizens while making news stories interesting and interactive. Everett notes that Retro Report "recognizes that current events are rarely as tidy as classes make them seem." Furthermore, their work "helps to foster media literacy and global citizenship among students."

Learn more

NCSS logo

Register for the NCSS Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Institute

The National Council for the Social Studies is seeking social studies methods professors to join their free Primary Sources Summer Institute. The institute brings together methods professors from across the NCSS membership to pilot chapters from two online methods texts currently under development:

  • Inquiry and Teaching with Primary Sources to Prepare Students for College, Career, and Civic Life (elementary, K-6 edition
  • Inquiry and Teaching with Primary Sources to Prepare Students for College, Career, and Civic Life (secondary, 6-12 edition).

The institute will take place June 16 and 17 in Minneapolis.


Quiz Answer!

B. Stephen Douglas (see episode 4590)

For more quizzes and learning opportunities, check out the 60-Second Civics podcast and daily civics quiz!


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