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Driver joins history discussion

After 11 years of teaching, Michael Driver, a U.S. history and government instructor at Farragut High School, did not expect to become a student again. However, that is the role he took at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy’s first summer teachers’ institute. Driver was one of only 30 educators from across the state to gather at the University of Tennessee to hear from a host of experts on the “Teaching of Congress and the Presidency.”

During the five-day institute, high school history and government teachers learned about the operations of and the relationship between Congress and the presidency. “The institute was designed to allow teachers to interact with political leaders and experts in the political realm. We hope this institute provided the professional expertise, first-hand knowledge, examples and stories that teachers need to enhance their classroom experiences,” said Alan Lowe, director for the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

Guest speakers included current and former politicians, directors of presidential libraries, university professors, and other experts historians, political leaders and scholars such as former Sen. Howard Baker Jr., former Congressman Bob Clement, Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski, Emily Reynolds (Secretary of the Senate), John Seigenthaler (First Amendment Center), Richard Baker (Senate Historian), Susan Webb Hammond (American University) and David Greenberg (Rutgers University).

In addition to having the opportunity to interact with prominent politicians and experts, the teachers were provided with classroom tools and applications, including lesson plans, simulations, webquests and other teaching tools.

Charlie Flanagan, an award-winning teacher from the Key School in Annapolis, Maryland, provided workshops so that teachers could return home with helpful materials for both their classrooms and the classrooms of colleagues.

“Our goal for this institute was to provide a great deal of expert information that the teachers could then apply in their classrooms. We invited speakers and chose topics that would complement Tennessee‚s high school history and government curriculum standards, and we also worked to provide the teachers with creative and helpful teaching tools to put that information into use,” said Lowe.

Among the topics discussed were the relationship, history and operations of the Congress and the White House, the New Deal, World War II, Watergate, and the Civil Rights Movement. Teachers also glimpsed some of the highlights of the Clinton, Nixon, Truman, FDR, and Eisenhower presidencies.

Discussions also were held on the relationships between Congress and the Constitution, the budget and the armed forces.


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