“I couldn’t imagine spending July any other way. What a fabulous experience for my life, mind, and teaching.” These are the words of a participant at the Center’s National Academy for Civics and Government, which was conducted at Occidental College July 8–29 under the scholarly direction of Professor Will Harris of the University of Pennsylvania. Visiting scholars included Professor Steven Bilakovics, Dr. Kevin Ryan, and John Swaine, the CEO of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. The “preceptors,” or mentor teachers, were Kevin Fox, Shellee O’Brien, and Keith Gall.
The National Academy is an intensive, three-week study of the content of political and constitutional theory as well as its applications to the participants’ professional lives. The National Academy participants are elementary or secondary school teachers from across the country who were selected in a competitive review process.
The National Academy readings are drawn from important primary and secondary sources, and can be viewed in their entirety on the content outline link on the Center’s website. Perhaps the best way to understand its profound effects on the participants is to read their own words:
“I learned way more than I can acknowledge right now. I thank y’all so much for an amazing experience. It changed my life. Keep asking the hard questions!”
“This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life! I have completely reassessed the way I view the world.”
“Will was so flexible. He has a great mind and is a great teacher! I got a ton of teaching ideas. Will is a great example of a citizen. I am so grateful for the environment of scholarship during the three weeks.”
“Will creates not only a framework for understanding constitutional history and philosophy but a constitutional way of thinking and discussion. This is incredibly valuable for teachers of American history and politics (and I imagine teachers of other subjects as well).”
“Wow, what an honor and a privilege to be here. This has genuinely been amazing. I hope I can continue to study, think, and talk on this level.”
“I appreciated deeply the opportunity to engage in constitutional theory. This kind of thinking is a luxury in the day-to-day experiences of my teaching.”
Center Associate Director John Hale attested to the excellence of the faculty and participants, noting that he had “never seen a more cohesive group of participants over the past two decades in which the National Academy has been offered. They continue to stay in close touch via their Facebook site as well as on www.politicolor.com. I believe them when they say the National Academy will greatly enhance their teaching.”