Eleven graduate students from the history and social science education program at Virginia Tech will be partnering with high school and middle school students from across the country to witness the historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama next week.

David Hicks, associate professor in the School of Education, is working with the American Civics Center (ACC), a non-partisan civic education organization that brings thousands of secondary school students and teachers to the nation’s capital each year for week-long educational programs to learn about history, government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy. Darren Minarik, the curriculum director at the American Civics Center and a Virginia Tech doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, is assisting with this teaching field experience trip. Minarik is from Alexandria, Va.

The Virginia Tech teaching entourage will leave for Washington D.C., on Jan. 17 and spend six days and five nights as Civics Center instructors. Each member of the history and social science education cohort will be responsible for leading 15 to 20 youth through a unique educational experience where the classroom will be the nation’s capital in a most dynamic time.

Master's students from curriculum and instruction participating include

  • Jennifer Mecca from Roanoke, Va.;
  • Kristen Callan from Monroe, N.Y.;
  • Mary O'Mara from Chesapeake, Va.;
  • Ashley Payne from Victoria, Va.;
  • Paul Dolenc from Vienna, Va.;
  • Hunter Simmons from Fincastle, Va.;
  • Matthew Barrow from Portsmouth, Va.; and
  • Joseph Wilder from Jonesville, Va.

Also assisting will be Ph.D candidate Melissa Lisanta from Christiansburg, Va., graduate assistant Charlie Crabtree from Salem, Va., and Minarik.

In preparation for this experience, Hicks’ students completed two professional development sessions that focused on the American Civics Center methodology, the learner-centered teaching strategies, and how to turn the historic sites of Washington into interactive civics and history classrooms.

Hicks is the program area leader for history and social science grades 6 through 12 education program. His scholarship has appeared in such journals as Social Education, The Mathematics Teacher, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, Teachers College Record (book reviews), Theory and Research in Social Education, Social Studies Research and Practice, International Journal on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Learning and Leading with Technology, Journal of Women’s History, and the International Journal of Social Education. His research interests include, examining the nature and purpose of the teaching of history in a standards based setting; the integration of multi-media and digital technologies to support the teaching and learning of history and social science; citizenship education; disability studies; and parental advocacy.

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