Civics Education Seen Through a 21st Century Lens

July 19, 2006

Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia educators will take an in depth look at civics, economics, entrepreneurship and geography as part of the Civics for the 21st Century Summer Institute on July 24 – 27, 2006, at the Charleston Civic Center. The four-day event is sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE).  

County teachers, county social studies coordinators and higher education members will receive research-based professional development in civics, economics, entrepreneurship, and geography as seen through the 21st century lens. Participants will also learn more about technology tools necessary to deliver the 21st century skills and content.  

Guest speakers, such as National Geographic Photojournalist Annie Griffiths Belts, from around the nation will be featured during the four-day event. Speakers include:  

Monday, July 24, 2006, 6 p.m., Cultural Center Mr. Ted McConnell Director of the Campaign to Promote Civic Education Center for Civic Education, Washington, DC and Co-Coordinator of the Congressional Conferences on Civic Education  

Mr. McConnell is a nationally recognized expert on civics education. He has spoken to many audiences about the importance of a civics curriculum and the tie between local citizens and global citizens.  

Tuesday, July 25, 12:30 p.m. Mr. Thomas Sander Executive Director, Saquaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University  

Mr. Sander has directed a three-year executive session of leading thinkers and doers from across America. His expertise is in areas such as the social impact of communities receiving Katrina evacuees; the connection between workplace policies and practices and social capital on and off the job; and the intersection of religion and social and political life in America.  

Tuesday, July 25, 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Ms. Cathy Travis Author of Constitution Translated for Kids  

Constitution aficionado and political guru, Ms. Travis has worked on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years. She currently serves as the communications director for Congressman Solomon Ortiz, where she writes speeches and press releases, and manages all public relations efforts for the congressman. Constitution Translated for Kids is an accessible translation of the document that serves as the foundation of the United States government. The original text is paired side-by-side with a kid-friendly interpretation to pique interest and stimulate further discussion.  

Tuesday, July 25, 7 p.m. OPEN TO PUBLIC, FREE National Geographic Photojournalist Annie Griffiths Belts Little Theatre, Civic Center  

The National Geographic Live! event features Photojournalist Annie Griffiths Belts. Since the late 1980s, Ms. Belts has traveled the world as a photographer for National Geographic. Known for her sensitive nature and ability to bridge the divide that sometimes exists between people of distant cultures and beliefs, Ms. Belts has been connecting with her subjects for nearly three decades. In her richly illustrated presentations, she shares her stories of the people and places she has visited and of the rewarding journeys between here and there.  

Wednesday, July 26, 8:30 a.m. Mr. John Lefeber Curriculum Developer and Instructor for the National Council on Economic Education  

Mr. LeFeber is currently the Curriculum Developer and Instructor for the National Council on Economic Education, with offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Lincoln, Nebraska. One of his many responsibilities is to manage the EconEdLink Website at, which is also featured on the MarcoPolo Website, To quench this teaching thirst, he teaches part time at the University of Nebraska and supervises practicum and student teachers. He also loves to travel and train teachers in the use of technology in the classroom.  

Thursday, July 27, 11 a.m. Re-enactment of the J.R. Clifford Case  

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher and Mr. Tom Rodd will present a re-enactment of J.R. Clifford's famous case before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. In 1892, Clifford became the attorney for Mrs. Carrie Williams, a Tucker County African American schoolteacher. Clifford represented Mrs. Williams in a landmark West Virginia civil rights case from the Blackwater Canyon region of Tucker County, Williams v. Board of Education (W.Va. 1898). The Williams case established the right of the children of African American workers in Henry Gassaway Davis’ Tucker County coal mines to school terms of equal length as those enjoyed by white children. The Williams case also established the right of African American schoolteachers in West Virginia to equal pay – a right that over decades led to a remarkable level of excellence in West Virginia’s public segregated colleges for African Americans prior to 1954.  

West Virginia became the second state in the nation to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills in November 2005. The Partnership's framework puts a special emphasis on information and communications technology literacy as well as critical thinking, communication skills, global awareness, and business, economic and civic literacy.  

For more information about the Civics for the 21st Century Summer Institute or WVDE’s 21st Century Learner Initiative, contact Liza Cordeiro, WVDE Communications Office Executive Director at 304-558-2699.  

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