DAN MAYER, staffer for Discovering Democracy shares his REFLECTIONS
DAN MAYER, staffer for Discovering Democracy shares his REFLECTIONS on the 4th Field Study in Washington, DC.
Last evening NBC15-WMTV showed the video of the presentation of one of the five 2013 CRYSTAL APPLE AWARDS to VAL CROFTS. GOOD NEWS! TODAY I am sharing the REFLECTION of DAN MAYER on his experience as a staffer for Discovering Democracy IV on field study this year. GLAD to share the GOOD news of Discovering Democracy at Milton High School. We need MORE democracy/civics education programs like Discovering Democracy in our high schools throughout WI and the US! Do you agree?
Did YOU see the presentation of one of the five 2013 CRYSTAL APPLE awards to VAL CROFTS at Milton High School on NBC15-WMTV’s 6 pm newscast last evening? COMMENDATION to VAL CROFTS with GRATITUDE for his conscientious and committed extra work making the Washington, DC field study for Milton HS students. And already he is in full gear planning for the 5th annual field study in April 2014.
If you want to see the video, you can use this link, “WMTV – Crystal Apple” webpage. You will find “NBC15 Crystal Apple Videos” on the right-side of the webpage.
A KEY FEATURE which has made Discovering Democracy field study a very effective, safe and productive educational program is the staff which VAL CROFTS, founder/director, has developed.
The first year of the field study, JOHN HOLT, Director of Technology for the School District of Milton, joined the program as Associate Director. JOHN has been on staff each of the 4 years and is a very enthusiastic supporter of Discovering Democracy.
Other staffers for Discovering Democracy are Milton School District officials and teachers. I have invited each of them to share a REFLECTION on Discovering Democracy IV (2013) with you – readers of my WE THE PEOPLE blog. TODAY I am very happy to share with you the REFLECTION of DAN MAYER, English teacher at Milton HS. Here is that REFLECTIONS:
When my good friend and colleague Val Crofts began the Discovering Democracy program 4 years ago, my initial impression was: Wow, what a great opportunity for our students. But these are high school seniors here--lining up interviews with politicians? Navigating through Washington, DC for a week? Can this actually be done and done well?
After 2 years as a part of the Discovering Democracy staff, I know that all three questions can be answered with a resounding YES!
The beauty of the Discovering Democracy program does not just lie in the expert-level knowledge that the students gain through months of research, critical thinking, and discussion. (I’ll save that for Val and John, two experts in the field of political history.) After all, this is a field study, not a field trip. What I am most impressed with is the maturity and growth of the students who make the commitment - they leave Milton as teenagers and return as young adults.
Before anyone even sets foot in Maryland, the students have already accomplished the challenging task of contacting political representatives and experts pertaining to their topic of research and setting up interviews. We all know how tough it can be to just get contact with our city administration; the perseverance and maturity needed to line up quality time with those in DC is no small feat. Once in DC, the students are truly independent. Sure, we show them proper metro etiquette and take them around to all of the usual sites, but it’s up to each student to navigate the city to get to their interviews. What begins as a picture of tense wide-eyed adolescents in suits concludes with the relaxed confidence of DC workers moving in and out of their scheduled meetings. The transformation is stunning.
Each year of Discovering Democracy brings about new students and new research topics, but the student revelations are the same: “I’m so proud of myself.” “I feel like a grown-up.” “I’m so ready for college campus.” As I said earlier, they leave Milton as high schoolers, they return as adults.
I would like to thank John Eyster for his vision in creating the Washington Seminar program; Val Crofts for his relentless efforts to build the Discovering Democracy program; the other DD staff members for their compassion and leadership; the MHS administration and community for their support; and of course, the students for completing the vision and making DD the wonderful experience that it is.
/s/ Dan Mayer, MHS English Teacher
I look forward to sharing other statements of staff REFLECTIONS as I receive them from the other Discovering Democracy IV staffers.
I did post VAL CROFTS' own REFLECTIONS on 3-weeks ago, Thursday, April 18, "Discovering Democracy IV Director Val Crofts & students on "YOUR TALK SHOW" - WCLO (1230 AM) at 10 AM tomorrow!"
The Discovering Democracy segment on "YOUR TALK SHOW" on Friday, April 19, was outstanding. IF you want to hear it, you can use this link to the podcast, "Discovering Democracy."
After reporting on the upcoming "YOUR TALK SHOW" segment, I shared VAL CROFTS' own REFLECTIONS on his 4th annual Discovering Democracy field study.
If you want to meet DAN MAYER and all the Discovering Democracy IV students and staffers, YOU are welcome to the RESEARCH FAIR at Milton High School Library from 7 – 9 pm on Thursday, May 30 – that’s 3 weeks from TODAY. MARK YOUR CALENDAR! See you there? I’ll be there too.
Here we go…
John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor of political science at UW-Whitewater and an advocate for Project Citizen, a model curriculum for democracy/civics education in Wisconsin high schools. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.