The We the People Professional Development Directors/Mentors Conference was held in Newport Beach, California, on March 6–8, 2009.
During the conference, more than 30 professional development directors and around 100 teacher mentors from across the nation gathered to work together and discuss how to conduct effective workshops and institutes.
Susan Leeson, a retired Oregon State Supreme Court justice, lectures on Unit 4 of the new We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution high school text.
Robert Leming, director of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, opened the conference with a speech about the theory and practice of good professional development. A director/mentor panel continued the dialogue on best practices, answering questions and listening to comments from colleagues as part of the process of enriching afternoon planning sessions.
The conference welcomed three authoritative and knowledgeable speakers. Intelligence expert and author James Bamford shared his expertise on national security surveillance and the past, present, and future of the National Security Agency within the context of privacy rights and constitutionality. Business consultant Mark Morze gave an informative and timely lecture on the economy, business regulation, and the constitution, as related to recent white-collar fraud cases. Susan Leeson, a retired Oregon State Supreme Court justice, received a standing ovation for a guided lesson exploring Unit 4 of the new We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution high school text, which discusses how the values and principles embodied in the constitution shaped American institutions and practices.
Mentor meeting sessions were organized according to grade-level specialization, which offered attendees the opportunity to discuss and debate best practices in a collegial environment. Building from a collaborative exchange, participants also met with their respective summer institute teams to review agendas and plan professional development strategies.
“I think it's wonderful when the Center can bring together mentor teachers and institute directors from all over the country and give them an opportunity to share and engage in a dialogue that strengthens the We the People network,” said David Alcox, a We the People competition teacher from Milford High School in New Hampshire.
“Every time I am fortunate enough to attend a CCE function, I come away feeling rejuvenated, enriched academically, and appreciated as an educator,” said Abby Dupke, a high school teacher and district coordinator in Arizona.
Representative Democracy in America, a program implemented by the Alliance for Representative Democracy in partnership with the Center, showcased a series of professional development training materials that are now available for distribution on the state and district levels.
The conference concluded with an engaging participant-driven simulated congressional hearing.