Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times                                Don Jenkins was recognized by the National Association of State Boards of Education as one of four “civic engagement champions” nationwide.

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times Don Jenkins was recognized by the National Association of State Boards of Education as one of four “civic engagement champions” nationwide.

Whidbey middle school teacher wins honor for civic education

Growing up to be an informed citizen who makes arguments based on facts takes a lot of practice, according to North Whidbey Middle School teacher Don Jenkins, whose efforts to help students get that practice have been nationally recognized.

The National Association of State Boards of Education, or NASBE, recently named Jenkins one of four “civic engagement champions” nationwide.

He turns history lessons about Lewis and Clark into research projects about grizzly bear conservation, holds mock elections in class and encourages his students to gather information on local issues and come up with solutions.

“Ultimately, the goal is to have good citizens who make informed decisions,” Jenkins said.

In his world history and Pacific Northwest history classes, he’s had the students prepare proposals to present to leaders and subject experts on a number of topics.

NASBE, in its announcement of Jenkins’ award, highlighted his lessons regarding Lewis and Clark’s expedition, their encounters with wildlife and the connection to how those wildlife are faring now.

The class prepared arguments for whether grizzly bears should be added to the North Cascades ecosystem, and the students sent their arguments to state lawmakers, a wildlife agency or to the newspaper in a letter to the editor.

The award was created by NASBE and the Frank Islam Institute for 21st Century Citizenship to “highlight the critical role that middle school teachers play in helping students become active, responsible citizens,” according to a press release.

Jenkins said he also wants his students to know that adults will listen to their opinions, especially if they’re supported by solid evidence.

He and the other award winners will be recognized Oct. 18 in Omaha, Neb., where he’ll receive a $5,000 award from the Frank Islam Institute for 21st Century Citizenship.

“It’s nice to show how important civic education is,” Jenkins said of receiving the award. “Anytime that can be brought up and given a spotlight, I think that is very important.”

More in News

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society President Laura Renninger, seen here with group mascot Garry, said she hopes Oak Harbor residents appreciate the city’s unique namesake trees this year.
City’s mayor proclaims 2021 as ‘Year of the Oak’

Members of the Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society hope residents will take advantage of a few opportunities to celebrate the city’s namesake tree.

Federal judge rejects injunction request against Navy Growlers

The decision wasn’t a surprise, and it doesn’t directly affect the underlying lawsuits by the state Attorney General’s Office and COER.

Schools look for more diversity in hiring teachers

Despite 41.9 percent of the Oak Harbor student population identifying as an ethnicity other than white, only 7.9 percent of teachers identified as an ethnicity other than white.

Teachers starting to receive COVID-19 vaccines

Gov. Inslee made the group immediately eligible along with those already in Phase 1B1 of the state’s vaccination program.

Hospital renovation moving forward

The $22.5 million project is on on track despite the district’s “cash poor” status and the pandemic.

Coupeville Middle School students are returning to campus, but not for class

Students in grades 6-8 will return to campus on March 8 in the afternoons for two days a week.

Camano man accused of murder appears in court

The man was accused of shooting two people, killing one, at a Camano Island home on Feb. 28.

House passes ban on certain police use-of-force tactics

Chokeholds are prohibited, car are chases limited and military equipment is not allowed.

Most Read