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Professional Development for Civics Teachers

With help from the Center for Civic Education and the Indiana Department of Eduaction, the Indiana Bar Foundation will facilitate week-long seminars for teachers in both We the People: Citizen and the Constitution (July 17-24) and Project Citizen (July 21-25). The 2010 We the People Summer Institue will be the first tri-state training seminar between Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, offering 33 spots for interested and approved teachers. The 2010 Project Citizen Institute will be the first in Indiana, providing a focus on concepts of human rights and justice. The limit to the number of teacher attendees is 20.

The 2010 We the People Summer Institute will take place July 17-24 at Indiana University-Bloomington. Starting with content lectures in the morning, participants will participate in the We the People process in the afternoon. Lectures will be provided by respected political scientists specializing in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They include: Dr. Sue Leeson and Dr. Scott Casper co-teaching Units 1 and 2; Dr. Judy Failer, Unit 3; Dr. Robert Dion, Unit 4; Dr. Rick Hardy, Unit 5; and Dr. Mike Williams with Unit 6. The We the People process will provide teachers with an understanding of how to instruct the program as well as provide them with the proper materials for the classroom. Teachers will leave the Institute prepared to immediately implement the program with their students.

The 2010 Project Citizen: Equal Justice institute will take place June 21-25 at Indiana University-Bloomington. While the focus will be on Project Citizen and its five-step process, teachers will also attend lectures on human rights, public policy, and state and local laws. Similar to the We the People Institute, lectures will be held in the morning and participation in the Project Citizen process (with porfolio development) will be in the afternoon. After attending the Institute, teachers will have a shaper understanding of human rights, the law, and how to effectively conduct Project Citizen in their classroom. This singular structure is modeled after the Idaho Human Rights Education Center and their Human Rights Project Citizen Institute.

If you are interested in attending the 2010 We the People Summer Institute please visit our website, www.inbf.org, or contact Kyle Burson, kburson@inbf.org, for an application. The deadline for applications is Thursday, April 15, 2010. If you are interested in attending the 2010 Project Citizen Summer Institute please contact Eric Steele, esteele@inbf.org, for an application. The deadline for applications is Thursday, April 15, 2010, but flexible for requested extensions. Hurry, though, as slots are filling up! If you have any questions or would like additional information please contact Kyle Burson or Eric Steele. We encourage all teachers to apply and look forward to receiving your application!

 

Web Videos for Civics Teachers & Volunteers

In an effort to keep communication clear and personal, the IBF Civics staff is launching monthly web video messages concerning staff strategies for guiding We the People and Project Citizen programs.

When asked what prompted the move, Erin Braun, Director of Civic Education and We the People State Coordinator stated, “We realized we were asking more of our volunteers and teachers than ever before. They give us their time and their hearts year round and now we ask them for their funding as well. We’re asking for more but communicating less, and that is unacceptable.”

The first video message will be sent in April, and will address strategy, solicit ideas for problem solving, and outline expected challenges and opportunities for the coming year. It will be available on the IBF’s website (www.inbf.org) and emailed to a limited audience of district coordinators, frequent volunteers, and teachers who showcase or compete at hearings. If you would like to receive the message, and are not sure you fall into the above categories, email PR@inbf.org to be placed on the list.

Monthly video messages will be approximately thirty seconds to two minutes in length and will give updates on successes and setbacks with fundraising and recruiting efforts for new schools and teachers. Videos will always contain a request for ideas and suggestions on how to help. The IBF’s new website (launch scheduled for May) will contain a suggestion box as well for the public to share their ideas.

With a large portion of the programs’ in-state funding coming from sources dependent on interest rates, 2010 and 2011 promise to be challenging years for Indiana civics. “We’ll have to make tough calls over the next two years, and we can’t do that without the input from our teachers and volunteers. We will take the time to tell them what their efforts make possible and let them be part of our decisions.” Braun stated. “Working together we’ll not only get through this, but continue to keep Indiana as a leader in civic education.”

 

First State Finals with Third Round, Munster Washington Bound

 Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randell T. Shepard with We the People State Champions, Munster High

Continuing a tradition of innovation, Indiana We the People implemented a third round of questioning to the 2009 High School State Finals. For months, the Foundation staff worked with teachers designing a schedule that would fit the needs of the schools while maintaining its rigorous approach to civic education. With this addition, Indiana became the only State Finals to host a four-day competition. Although grueling, the added round was enthusiastically received.

"Adding a third round to the We the People State Finals has kept Indiana at the pinnacle of perhaps the best civic education in the nation. The third round not only enhances the students' experience, it helps us determine the best overall team is to represent us at nationals. My students and I are very appreciative of the Indiana Bar Foundation and the Bar Association's tireless support in promoting civic education as it should be done. I feel very lucky to teach We the People in this state." – Chris Cavanaugh, WTP teacher, Plainfield High School (Runner-up at 2009 State Finals)

Twelve teams competed in the first round on December 13. The next morning, they presented their responses to a second round of questioning on the historical and philosophical foundations of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. At an awards luncheon, Chief Justice Randall Shepard announced the Top Five teams that would advance to the final round.

Indiana’s top five high school teams were: Munster High School, Plainfield High School, Fishers High School, Castle High School (Newburgh) and Homestead High School (Fort Wayne). Munster won the high school title and will travel to the National Finals in Washington, D.C., April 23–26, 2010. Plainfield (2nd) and Fishers (3rd) achieved their highest finishes ever, and two new schools joined the competition for the first time: Northrop High School (Fort Wayne) and Highland High School (Anderson).

At the Middle School State Finals, Indiana Supreme Court Associate Justice Theodore Boehm awarded St. Richards School (Indianapolis) first and third place, with Thompkins Middle School (Evansville) placing second. At the Elementary State Showcase, the judges were shocked with the students’ poise and content knowledge.

“The elementary showcase is probably the purest form of We the People. The children are just as enthusiastic, just as well prepared, just as influenced by the Constitution and comprehend the constitutional concepts in context of their station in life. The difference is that the elementary students are not reluctant to voice their opinions in terms they understand. They are unfettered by the pressures of high school and middle school. No concern about whether what they say is "cool,” politically correct or socially acceptable. They call it as they see it.”—Roderick H. Morgan, President, Indiana State Bar Association.

To become involved, contact Erin Braun, Director of Civic Education, at ebraun@inbf.org or 800-279-8772.

 

Judges Needed for State Showcases

The IBF will host the 2010 Elementary We the People and Project Citizen State Showcases and is in need of volunteers willing to judge either one or both events.

The Elementary We the People State Showcase will be held on Monday, May 3rd at the Indiana Government Center and Statehouse. The 15 fifth-grade classes from around the state will showcase their knowledge about the Constitution and Bill of Rights at a mock congressional hearing. The time commitment is approximately 11:00am to 3:00pm, EST. 30 judges are needed. Email Erin Braun, ebraun@inbf.org if you’re available to judge.

The Project Citizen State Showcase will be held on Tuesday, May 11th (Portfolio State Showcase) and Wednesday, May 12th (Oral Presentation State Showcase) a the Statehouse. Teams identify public policy problems in their community and then propose solutions to those problems. The time commitment is TBD, but 30 judges are needed for May 11th and 18 judges are needed for May 12th. Email Eric Steele (esteele@inbf.org) if you’re available to judge either or both events.

RSVP via email to the appropriate staff member by April 10th to serve as a judge

 

Indiana Mourns Loss of Stan Harris

                  

On January 5, 2010, Stan Harris, former WTP educator and state coordinator, passed away. Harris taught We the People from 1987 to 2003, winning the state title seven times and placing in the nation's top ten teams four of those years, an achievement that has yet to be surpassed in the Hoosier state. Harris also served the program as a congressional district coordinator while he was teaching, and when he retired, became state coordinator of Indiana’s program from 2004 – 2008.

The nation’s civic education family also shares Indiana’s sense of loss. David Richmond, state coordinator of California, dedicated the 2010 California State Finals to Harris’s memory. Harris was Richmond’s mentor at the first We the People Institute. Richmond went on to teach the program in California for many years, winning the state title numerous times, and credits Harris for his role his WTP career.

“Stan reached out to help a younger teacher become more effective in the classroom and in life. He modeled by words, but more by action. There was, of course, a friendly rivalry between us, but that did not deter him from being a mentor. I could not imagine holding our State Finals without mentioning the contributions of my friend and mentor.” Richmond stated.

Ruth Hartke, WTP alumna of Harris’s, created a “Remembering Stan Harris” site on Facebook. 549 students shared their memories of the legendary teacher. Here are a few selections:

“I've never had a teacher in high school or college that influenced me as much as Stan Harris did. Competition Government was really the only extracurricular activity I ever did in high school, and I'll never regret it.” John Bambanek

“I have a general positive feeling I carry with me every day because of Stan. He inspired me to follow the calling of an educator.” Brad Berridge

“Among many things, Stan (The Man) taught me that the two most important elements in any worthwhile discussion are respect and disagreement. I disagreed with most of Stan’s political views back then (and still do), but I’ve never respected a teacher more.” Marianne Skaggs

The Indiana General Assembly passed a resolution honoring Harris’s contributions to civic education.

Erin Braun, former WTP student of Harris’s, took over as state coordinator when Harris retired in 2008 and worked with him during his tenure as state coordinator. “There truly are no words to qualify the influence Stan had on my life. He gave me We the People, 15 years of friendship, and I know that working with and learning from him will stand as one of the greatest professional experiences of my life. His brilliance with teachers, humble service and irreverent sense of humor will be missed forever.”

For those wishing to honor Harris, he asked that donations be made in his name to We the People. The Indiana Bar Foundation created the Stan Harris WTP Memorial Fund, which will be used to send students to the WTP National Finals. Contributions can be made online at www.inbf.org by clicking on DONATE NOW, or mailed to the Bar Foundation at 230 E. Ohio Street, 4th Floor, Indianapolis, IN 46204 with Stan Harris in the memo line. Contact ebraun@inbf.org with questions.

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