Ann Clemmer, We the People: Project Citizen coordinator for the second district of Arkansas, has been elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives for Saline County (AR-29). Clemmer is a member of the political science faculty at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where her specialty is American Government and Politics. She has been involved with the Center since 2005 and has served as a scholar for both We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution and Project Citizen. She is currently a trainer for We the People in Arkansas.
Two schools in Kern County have been honored for their efforts to educate for democracy. In September 2008, Endeavor Elementary School and Foothill High School, both with strong We the People programs, were named Schools of Distinction by the California Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools. Only four schools in the entire state were chosen for this prestigious award which highlights efforts by these schools to implement the six promising approaches for democracy education.
District of Columbia
On January 7, 2009, more than 50 middle school students from the SEED School and the DC Preparatory Academy competed at the inaugural District of Columbia middle school showcase for We the People at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives.
A former Project Citizen student at Hialeah Middle School in Miami, Florida, was selected to be the student representative for the Hialeah Gardens City Council. Now a high school senior, the student participated in Project Citizen as an eighth-grader. In a speech at the 2007 Project Citizen coordinator conference in San Francisco, she cited the program as the inspiration for her involvement in community service and local student government activities. The student, who was appointed in December 2008, is the only student selected to this newly created position within the city council.
Students from Benavente and Oceanview middle schools took part in Guam’s first Project Citizen territorial showcase in April 2008 at the Guam Legislature. The evaluators were Judith Won Pat, speaker of the Guam Legislature, Tina Rose Muna-Barnes, legislative secretary, and Christine Scott-Smith from the University of Guam’s Robert F. Kennedy Library.
On December 5, Senator Richard J. Durbin attended the Illinois state We the People finals where he delivered a speech congratulating the We the People students on their study of the Constitution. His speech included a history of the Senate's filibuster rule.
Frontiers International, a nationwide service organization, held its first national championship for We the People in Indianapolis on July 19, 2008. Students from Indiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin participated in the competition and students from several other states submitted work for an exhibition. The Indianapolis branch of Frontiers International incorporated We the People into its Youth Citizenship Development Series.
Chatham High School's We the People class won its eighth consecutive state championship at the Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston in January 2009. The class, composed of 20 students, competed against seven other classes from around the state.
Social studies teacher Tom Flaherty, Chatham High School’s We the People coach for the past 13 years, will be retiring at the end of the school year. He has led summer teacher workshops in Bosnia and throughout the United States and plans to continue working with the Center during his retirement.
Sally Broughton, Project Citizen state coordinator for Montana, has been chosen as the Montana Teacher of the Year for 2009. Broughton teaches social studies and language arts to sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders at Monforton School near Bozeman. She has earned numerous awards for her innovative teaching and her leadership in civic education. In 2006, Broughton’s Project Citizen students prepared a project called “If Hyalite Dam Broke” which explored safety issues related to a local dam. They presented the project to the county commissioner and to a state board. As a result of their work, the county has received a $267,206 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to implement the recommended safety features.
After examining inspirational speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., and by President Obama that highlight community problems and the need for change, Project Citizen students at Hyde Park Middle School in Las Vegas were challenged by their teacher Janet Weinstein to write a speech about a problem in their community that was important to them. One student wrote about cuts to teachers’ pay and the school's budget. A representative of the local teachers union who saw a video of the speech was so inspired by it that that he forwarded a copy to the union president. As a result, the student was invited to speak at a union rally after which he was asked to travel to the state capitol to deliver his speech before the legislature.
We the People students from Milford High School recently taped and hosted a new political talk show on Milford cable channel 20 called “This Week in We the People." Panelists took questions from an audience composed of other We the People students, debating such issues as the state of local democracy and internet voting. The 30-minute program aired 10 episodes in its first season.
The Pennsylvania State University College of Education has been working extensively with We the People District 5 Coordinator Sara Mehltretter in introducing We the People to soon-to-be teachers. During the Fall Semester, three professors taught a total of five sections, each with 25 elementary education students. In 2009, classes will also be using Project Citizen as part of their training.
Yvonne Rhodes has been named as the South Carolina Bar’s 2008 Law Related Education High School Teacher of the Year. Rhodes has been working with the Center since 1990 and has taken several teams to the We the People national finals. She serves as the District 6 We the People coordinator and has served as a mentor and trainer in We the People as well as a mentor for Representative Democracy in America.
Cleveland Middle School social studies teacher Barbara Ector was named National Middle School Social Studies Teacher of the Year for the 2008–2009 school year. It's the latest honor to be bestowed on Ector. In 2007, she was named as the NAACP John H. Peterson Teacher of the Year and was one of three educators in the nation to receive the American Civic Education Teacher Award, which is sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, the Center on Congress at Indiana University and the National Education Association. Ector has been involved with both We the People and Project Citizen since 2001.
Ten high school classes from throughout Washington competed in the We the People state finals, which were held on December 8–9, 2008. More than 450 people attended the hearings at the capitol, and opening and closing ceremonies were held at the Senate chambers. Students from Gig Harbor advanced to the national finals with the help of their teacher Ken Brown. The event received local coverage from the Washington State Public Affairs Network.
PC Hearing at WI Secure Program Facility
Wisconsin held its first Project Citizen showcase at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility in October 2008. Eight maximum-security inmates completed two public policy portfolios: “Compulsory Education” and “Prison Re-entry Programming.” Wisconsin State Senator Daniel Kapanke, State Coordinator Jack Jarmes, Janet Jarmes and District 3 Coordinator Erin Allers served as judges. The students’ teacher is Deanna Thein, a special education and GED instructor at the facility who attended a Project Citizen Summer Institute in Indianapolis.
New State Coordinators
In Massachusetts, Ellen Barber is the new state coordinator for Project Citizen, working out of Boston University. Justin Rydstrom, the program manager at the Center’s Washington, D.C., office, is the coordinator for We the People in the District. Glenn Nerbak assumes control of Maine’s We the People program. In New Hampshire, Robin Knippers will be coordinating Project Citizen and We the People for the New Hampshire Bar Association. In Pennsylvania, Jason Raia will run We the People and Project Citizen on behalf of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.