On November 1-4, 2018, Rustin Jones and Jason Shelton, 8th grade teachers at Greeneville Middle School, participated in a JMLP Experiential Study Institute in Charleston, South Carolina. The Institute was part of the James Madison Legacy Project, a three-year initiative funded by the US Department of Education, managed nationally by the Center for Civic Education, and statewide by the Tennessee Center for Civic Learning and Engagement. During the first three years of JMLP, students and educators were tested through research out of Georgetown University to determine improvement in their knowledge of critical portions of our nation’s history.
They joined educators from across Tennessee and Washington in facilitated tours of National Park sites Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter, participated in a discussion of the Fourteenth Amendment with Oregon Supreme Court Justice Sue Leeson (Ret.) and a review of the controversy surrounding the apology-for-involvement in the institution-of-slavery resolution passed by the Charleston City Council in June 2018 facilitated by Milwaukee County, WI Circuit Court Commissioner (Ret.) Lindsey Draper. The facilitated discussions included ways in which the teachers can incorporate the things they learned on the trip into their classroom presentations and how the knowledge acquired can be used to inspire their students. In addition to the visits to federal National Park sites, the teachers participated in facilitated tours of the Charleston Custom House which include the ballroom in which South Carolina’s representatives voted to ratify the U.S. Constitution ratification as well as dungeons that once held slaves and the Old Slave Mart Museum which contained artifacts and explanations of the development and flourishing of the slave trade and an historical tour of the city.
The James Madison Legacy Project (JMLP) aimed to increase the number of highly effective teachers of high-need students through professional development; increase the achievement of students in attaining state standards in civics and government; serve the self-identified professional development needs of more than 500 participating schools with significant concentrations of high-need students throughout the United States; and evaluate the relative effectiveness of the Center’s research-validated traditional We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution professional development model enhanced with online resources and a new blended-learning variation of the traditional model that also uses online resources. Teachers engage students in highly interactive civics instruction, which culminates in a simulated congressional hearing.
The JMLP Tennessee program is administered through the Tennessee Center for Civic Learning and Engagement (TCCLE) under the direction of Janis Adams Kyser, Executive Director of TCCLE. Kyser stated “During the three-year JMLP funding, TCCLE has provided professional development opportunities to over 90 educators from Tennessee along with 21 New Mexico and Washington educators. The hope is that American history, social science and civics be taught in all public schools, including information on the state and U.S. constitutions, the Declaration of Independence, local history and government, and the branches of government. Students will be allowed to develop the skills necessary to access, analyze and evaluate written and digital media as it relates to history and civics, and provided opportunities to participate in issues relative to power, economic status and the common good in democracy."