News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Greaney named Civics Teacher of the Year

Sisters High School social studies and language arts teacher Gail Greaney received the honor of being named the 2021-22 Civics Teacher of the Year by the Classroom Law Project of Oregon (CLP).

Greaney, who has taught at SHS for 16 years, learned of the award in November and was recognized by her peers on December 3 at the annual civics conference for teachers, sponsored by the Classroom Law Project.

The CLP has its roots in Oregon dating back to the 1970s. According to its website, the mission of the organization is “to serve as a leader in preparing students to become active, engaged, and informed participants in a democratic society.” The CLP supports training and provides materials for teachers in all grade levels related to civics.

As an active member of the Oregon Law Project for many years, Greaney has taught Advanced Placement U.S. History and Advanced Placement Government in recent years, along with a variety of language arts classes.

Greaney says that a key takeaway for students in her classes is “taking perspective, hearing other people’s stories and points of view, and finding out ways to discover common ground.”

She continued, “If we are able to facilitate that in our classrooms, we are also helping students experience and cultivate empathy, which is a cornerstone to operating as a democracy.

“If we can actually create an environment where we are celebrating and encouraging different points of view, our students will be well-prepared to be effective contributors in society throughout their lives,” she said.

Greaney believes her nomination came from a former student, but award winners can be nominated also by administrators, colleagues, parents, or members of the community.

Criteria for selection for the award includes participation in CLP for at least five years, collaboration and training with other educators, active work with stakeholders to create a strong culture for civic education and engagement, and being one who inspires creativity, critical thinking, active learning, and civic participation.

When asked what it means to her to receive the award, Greaney said, “I have been to the CLP conference for many years where the award is presented and the winners are always incredibly impressive people who have done things like start nonprofits and organize huge community change projects, so to [be] chosen for what I do within my school and classroom felt very gratifying.”

Greaney has been active in the push to weave a defined requirement for civic education into the state social studies standards, which was approved by the Oregon Legislature last year.

“Sisters High School has always had such standards for civic education within our curriculum, but now it is expected in all schools in the state,” she said. “That change is a win for all students in Oregon.”

 

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