Graduate students to teach civics lessons at inauguration

RU graduate students Blair Yenowine and Kristen Straniero

RU graduate students Blair Yenowine and Kristen Straniero

As President Obama prepares for his second inauguration, two Radford University graduate students are preparing to lead a whirlwind civics course for a group of high school students in Washington, D.C.

Kristen Straniero and Blair Yenowine were selected by the American Civics Center (ACC) to teach 25 high school students out of a group of more than 100 visiting the nation's capital from California, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Texas and Virginia for the inauguration. Both Straniero and Yenowine will graduate from RU this spring with a master's degree in education, curriculum and instruction, and both are former students of Radford Professor Darren Minarik, director of curriculum and professional development for the ACC.

Straniero of Hopewell, N.J., and Yenowine of Acworth, Ga., will coordinate activities and teach subjects including history, citizenship and leadership, challenging the high school students to consider how to be responsible participating citizens in a democracy, Minarik said. They will lead educational tours of Washington's memorials, museums and neighborhoods, and will attend a special inauguration ball for students.

Straniero and Yenowine will also spend half a day on Capitol Hill facilitating meetings between the high school students and their senators and representatives. A highlight of the trip will be witnessing the swearing in of the nation's 45th president and watching the inauguration parade.

Both graduate students learned of the internship opportunity from an email forwarded by a professor. "It seemed like an excellent opportunity, so I applied," Yenowine said. "I am very grateful for this opportunity to represent Radford University in partnership with the American Civics Center. It will be an excellent experience for me to share with my future middle and high school students. I hope this is the first of many student trips during my career as an educator."

On learning of the possibility, Straniero said, "I immediately began preparing an application because I knew that this would be an amazing opportunity and experience. I am absolutely thrilled to have been chosen to represent Radford University, a home that has cultivated individual growth, learning and experiences."

Professor Minarik said he was fortunate enough to work with the two during their senior year at RU as they prepared for their secondary social studies field experience. "I also had the opportunity to work with them in spring 2012 as they prepared their first units of study to teach in their field placements.  They were chosen from a quality pool of RU candidates because of their strong content background in U.S. history and government, and familiarity with using Strategic Instruction Model Content Enhancement Routines to teach social studies content."

Both students received overview training before RU's winter break and will attend orientation Jan. 17-22 to learn more about the nation's capital and the logistics of using the city as a social studies classroom.

More information about the American Civics Center is available on its website.

Jan 15, 2013
Bonnie Q. Erickson
(540) 831-5804