In Case You’re Wondering
I normally avoid discussing politics in my professional life. Yet, as an educator, teaching children and teenagers about the election process is an important piece of learning about U.S. government, our civic duty and social norms in our country.
The tone of national political races the past year made it challenging for teachers to incorporate current events into their lessons, especially at the elementary level. The content and language infused into some of the campaigns was not “family friendly,” and news reports were sometimes R-rated due to the content of the messages.
Yet, many Emporia teachers found ways to work around that and teach students about the political process and our right to vote in a positive, meaningful way. I am especially #EmporiaProud of the election unit taught at Village Elementary for a few weeks leading up to and during the November election.
Inspired by the election season, the second and fourth grade teams at Village worked together on a unique learning opportunity that ended with the election of a Principal and Vice Principal for the Day. Classroom primary elections in the second and fourth grades narrowed down the list of candidates for the school-wide election. Once the primary elections were completed, fourth grade principal candidates were paired with the vice principal candidates from their buddy classrooms at the second grade.
Lots of students got involved making campaign posters. The Emporia High School debate team spent a couple of afternoons working with the candidates on public speaking and selling their ideas. On November 7, the day before the election, Village held a town-hall meeting where the final candidates and their running mates introduced themselves and made campaign speeches to the student body. The assembly was also well-attended by parents and other family members.
The candidates, dressed in their professional best, spoke with confidence and served as positive representatives of the election process. More importantly, the student audience was respectful, interested and attentive. District staff video-taped the town hall meeting, and it is worth your time to view the Emporia Public Schools video Principal for a Day – Village Forum.
On November 8, the student body went to the polls to cast their ballots for Principal and Vice Principal for a Day. A total of 440 votes were cast and by the end of the day the winners were announced – Aaliyah Johnson and Cohen Bloomquist. They served their term on November 18 and their day included extra recess and extra technology time.
The beauty of the lesson was how the teaching staff took a topic that often causes adults to argue and created a safe environment for young people to learn the true meaning of the election process. The students excelled far beyond teachers’ expectations and showed us that civil politics is possible.
This is one of many teachable moments that I get to experience as I visit classrooms across the district. Each day, I am thankful for the group of teaching professionals that work in this district. Emporia children are fortunate to be under their care.