Teachers from New Hampshire, Florida and Iowa Receive American Civic Education Teacher Awards

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., July 23, 2013 — Teachers from Florida, Iowa and New Hampshire are recipients of the 2013 American Civic Education Teacher Awards, recognizing their exemplary work preparing young people to become informed and engaged citizens. The ACETA winners are: David Alcox of Milford High School and Applied Technology Center in Milford, N.H; Douglas Oswald of Marion Technical Institute in Ocala, Fla.; and Nancy Peterson of Gilbert High School in Gilbert, Iowa.

 The awards are given annually to teachers of civics, government and related subjects who have demonstrated exceptional expertise, dynamism and creativity in motivating students to learn about the Constitution, Congress and public policy.

ACETA is sponsored by the Center on Congress at Indiana University, the Center for Civic Education, and the National Education Association.

Charles N. Quigley, Executive Director of the Center for Civic Education, praised Oswald, Peterson and Alcox for their dedication to teaching young people the fundamental principles, values, and institutions of our constitutional system of government. “It is an honor to recognize teachers who are doing such excellent work molding the civic character of our youth,” Quigley said.

Lee Hamilton, Director of the Center on Congress, lauded the awardees for inspiring their students to understand and embrace their civic obligations. “In order to succeed, our representative democracy requires wisdom and action from American citizens. These three teachers bring terrific creativity and energy to the vital task of helping young people gain the knowledge and skills they need to work within the political system to make our nation better.”

“NEA commends the awardees for their commitment to helping students learn how to think critically and work collaboratively to solve problems, skills that are essential for America to advance in the 21st century,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “Their commitment to civic education is exemplary and a testament to the professionalism and excellence demonstrated in classrooms across the country every day."

The three awardees share a passion for explaining democracy and citizenship in an engaging way and helping young people see that what goes on in local, state and federal government is relevant to their lives.

In his self-portrait essay, Douglas Oswald wrote that his style and method of teaching reflect his professional mission — “to facilitate the transition of my students from the arena of public schools into the world of citizenship, careers and life-long learning. Exemplary teaching starts with a fundamental understanding of the role of public education, then proceeds with high expectations and a rigorous agenda that is relevant to the student’s lives.” A graduate of the University of Florida, Oswald earned a Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law and has been teaching for 14 years.

Nancy Peterson wrote that her class is designed to engage and support student learning. “My class is taught through the use of computers, role-playing, video, and discussions. I have designed my class from the student perspective, in that the learning needs to be relevant, students need to see it and do it, and it needs to answer the question ‘Why?’ She goes on to say, “The understanding of the rule of law is the most important thing a civilized society needs, and civic education teachers carry out this responsibility every day.” Peterson, who has taught for 29 years, received her B.S. in Secondary Education from Northwest Missouri State University and did graduate work at the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University. She is President of the Iowa Council for the Social Studies.

David Alcox wrote, “I believe the purpose of education is to prepare our students to function and contribute to their community and nation in a positive manner. This preparation should include teaching civic virtue and critical thinking skills. Students must learn to apply these skills, with the ethics of civic virtue; that will encourage and foster better communities.” Alcox, who did his undergraduate work at Keene State College and earned a Master’s degree from Indiana University, has been teaching for 17 years.

Each year the ACETA program selects and showcases three teachers whose students represent the diversity of the American public and private school systems. Applicants must be full-time classroom teachers of grades K–12. There is no fee to apply. Applicants must submit a two-page self-portrait essay, their resume, and three letters of recommendation — two from teaching peers and one from their school principal.

With the recognition this year of Alcox, Oswald and Peterson, the ACETA program has now honored 24 teachers since the awards were first given in 2006. The previous ACETA awardees:

Jim Bentley (Foulks Ranch Elementary School, Elk Grove, Calif.)

Nate Breen (Cheyenne Central High School, Cheyenne, Wyo.)

Sally Broughton (Monforton Elementary School, Bozeman, Mont.)

Christopher Cavanaugh (Plainfield High School, Plainfield, Ind.)

Kevin Cline (Frankton Jr. Sr. High School, Frankton, Ind.)

Cheryl Cook-Kallio (Irvington High School, Fremont, Calif.)

Mary Ellen Daneels (Community High School, West Chicago, Ill.)

Barbara Simpson Ector (Cleveland Middle School, Cleveland, Tenn.)

Jaime Festa-Daigle (Lake Havasu High School, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.) 

Kevin Fox (Arcadia High School, Arcadia, Calif.)

Milton Hyams (Incline High School, Incline Village, Nev.)

Cindy Jarrett (Durant Road Elementary School, Raleigh, N.C.)

Tamara Johnson (Kettle Moraine High School, Wales, Wis.)

Julie Kuhnhein (Highlands High School, Fort Thomas, Ky.)

Galelyn McElroy (Central High School Magnet Career Academy, Louisville, Ky.)

Rique Ochoa (Alta High School, Sandy, Utah)

Mark Oglesby (Howell High School, Howell, Mich.)

Donna Paoletti Phillips (Robert Frost Middle School, Rockville, Md.)

Sarah Ann Richardson Turpin (Clemson Elementary School, Clemson, S.C.)

Jackie Viana (Hialeah Gardens Middle School, Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)

Gregory Walsh (Falls Church High School, Falls Church, Va.)

About the Sponsoring Organizations

The Center on Congress (www.centeroncongress.org) is a nonpartisan educational institution established in 1999 to help improve the public’s understanding of Congress and to encourage civic engagement.

The Center for Civic Education (www.civiced.org) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization dedicated to fostering the development of informed, responsible participation in civic life by citizens committed to values and principles fundamental to American constitutional democracy.

The National Education Association (www.nea.org) is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.