YLI Holds Third Teacher Day Workshop in Coordination with LoWV
Thanks to funding from the League of Women Voters of Charlottesville (LoWV), the Youth Leadership Initiative held its third Teacher Day workshop on July 24th on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. This year's event was focused on voting- past, present, and
future. Approximately thirty teachers travelled to Charlottesville from across Virginia and Maryland to participate. After a welcome from LoWV President, Kerin Yates, the group began to examine closely the impact of redistricting on the electorate.
The YLI Director of Instruction, Meg Heubeck, introduced the group to a brand-new resource, The Case of the Mysterious Gerrymander: Redistricting. The activity involving rubber bands and push pins had participants experimenting with different methods for creating voting districts. This resource provides educators a creative way to involve students in critical thinking about this important issue. To follow up on the issue of re-districting, Brian Cannon, Executive Director of One Virginia 2021 engaged those in attendance about the current voting situation in Virginia and outlined the organization's mission to amend Virginia's Constitution to provide for non-partisan redistricting.
Jeff Schapiro,a columnist with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, took the floor to discuss voting in Virginia from the perspective of a journalist with over twenty years experience covering politics in the state. He offered many ancedotes and examples of voting issues and challenges during his tenure and encouraged participants to engage their students in difficult discussions on voting topics.
The Library of Virginia had the opportunity to show teachers what source documents and programs on voting are available through its educational outreach programs. Teachers were introduced to the Library's online resources and presented strategies for using them in their classrooms.
The day concluded with a round robin discussion on increasing voter participation in Virginia. Guest speakers who took part in the activity were Geoffrey Skelley, Communications Director at the U.Va. Center for Politics; Kathy Galvin, Charlottesville City Council member; Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership; Senator Creigh Deeds from the Virginia General Assembly; Shannon Valentine, former Virginia Delegate and Executive Director of the One Virginia 2021 Foundation; and Christina Ross, YLI educator and Federal Policy Analyst for Teach Plus. Lively discussions took place during the ninety-minute session. Teachers and guests left the activity having a greater understanding of each other and how to increase voter participation.
Meg Heubeck said of the day, "This is the highlight of the YLI year! Having the opportunity to meet our teachers and facilitate their teaching of civics is what YLI is all about." The day was highly successful, and participants indicated that they would use the information with their students and attend future YLI Teacher Day events.