Teaching Democracy in the Classroom

UVA Democracy Biennial Fellows Workshop

Teaching Democracy in the Classroom

A collaborative effort between the University of Virginia Center for Liberal Arts, Miller Center, Democracy Initiative, and Karsh Institute of Democracy

A free in-person workshop for middle and high school teachers

Teaching Democracy in the Classroom
Saturday, October 22, 2022
10:00 am – 3:30 pm
Location: Miller Center, 2201 Old Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA 22904


We invite teachers from across Virginia to attend this workshop to explore strategies for incorporating lessons about and for democracy in the classroom.

Through morning discussions and afternoon working sessions, workshop attendees will help to shape curricular resources on the teaching of democracy through five distinct units: The Presidency; Realizing the American Dream; Living Democratically; Governing America; and Civic Rights, Responsibilities, and Opportunities. These materials will be disseminated throughout the Commonwealth for the coming academic year.

The workshop is a central component of the year-long UVA Democracy Biennial Fellows program, through which five middle and high school teachers are developing these educational resources. The program kicked off in the fall of 2021 as part of the UVA Democracy Biennial, which was a production of the University’s new Karsh Institute of Democracy.

Download Agenda

< Lead Organizers >

Marc Selverstone
Associate professor, Miller Center, UVA

Stefanie Georgakis Abbott
Director of programming, the Karsh Institute of Democracy, UVA

Alfred Reaves IV
Faculty and Program Coordinator, Miller Center, UVA

< Speakers & Moderators >

Paula McAvoy
Associate Professor of Education, NC State

Neeley Minton
Albemarle County Public Schools, Lead Coach - Social Studies (K-12)

Jessica Kimpbell Johnson
Research Director and Lab Manager

Cluny Brown
Clover Hill High School (Chesterfield)

Kimberly Dove
Wilbur S. Pence Middle School (Dayton)

Allen Robinson
Charlottesville High School (Charlottesville)

Joseph Servis
Appomattox High School (Appomattox)

Christina Takach
UVA Doctoral Student and Freelance Curriculum and Test Developer
Mark Twain Middle School (Fairfax)


Program Agenda

10:00 – 10:15 am

Welcome and Introductions
Marc Selverstone
Location: Forum Room

10:15 – 11:00 am

Session 1: Education for Democracy
Speaker: Paula McAvoy
Moderator: Neeley Minton
Location: Forum Room

11:05 – 11:50 am

Breakout session 1
Locations: Forum Room, Forum Anteroom, Commons Room, Library, Situation Room     

11:50 am – 12:45 pm        

Location: Forum Anteroom

12:45 – 1:30 pm        

Session 2: The Civic Health Index and Democracy
Speaker: Jessica Kimpell Johnson
Moderator: Stefanie Georgakis Abbott
Location: Forum Room

1:35 – 2:20 pm

Breakout session 2
Locations: Forum Room, Forum Anteroom, Commons Room, Library, Situation Room

2:20 – 2:30 pm        


2:30 – 3:15 pm        

Session 3: Presentations and Final Discussion
Location: Forum Room
o    Cluny Brown, Clover Hill High School (Chesterfield)
o    Kimberly Dove, Wilbur S. Pence Middle School (Dayton)
o    Allen Robinson, Charlottesville High School (Charlottesville)
o    Joseph Servis, Appomattox High School (Appomattox)
o    Christina Takach, Mark Twain Middle School (Fairfax)

3:15 – 3:20 pm        

Closing Remarks 
Location: Forum Room

Speaker Bios

Paula McAvoy earned her PhD in philosophy of education in 2010 at UW-Madison’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. Since then, she has worked as an assistant professor at Illinois State, an associate program officer at the Spencer Foundation and as the Director of the Center for Ethics and Education at UW-Madison. Prior to this, she taught high school social studies for 10 years at the Foothill Middle College Program in Los Altos, California.

Dr. McAvoy is the PhD coordinator for the Social Studies Program Area of Study.

Her research focuses on philosophical and empirical questions concerning the relationship between schools and democratic society. She addresses two broad questions:
1.    What educational aims and practices are most appropriate for preparing young people for living within a non-ideal democratic society (e.g., structural inequalities, political polarization)?
2.    How should teachers and administrators make professional judgments about the dilemmas they face given non-ideal conditions? For example, what ethical challenges do teachers encounter when they engage students in discussions of controversial political issues?


Neeley Minton has taught World History and U.S. History in Albemarle County Public Schools and has served as an instructional coach at middle schools and high schools in the area. She served as coordinator of K-12 Social Studies curriculum and instruction in Charlottesville City Schools and is currently serving in a similar role in Albemarle County Public Schools.

Neeley founded the division-wide K-12 Changing the Narrative initiative designed to build educators’ capacity to explore the historical roots of modern-day inequities and teach through rigorous, anti-racist/anti-bias instruction. Members of the Changing the Narrative cohorts collaborated with teachers from across Virginia to write anti-racist/anti-bias and culturally responsive inquiry-based units in K-12 Social Studies. These units are intended to prepare K-12 students for membership in a multi-racial democracy and to provide opportunities for students to engage in justice-oriented citizenship.

As Lead Coach for Social Studies and Coordinator of Elementary Reframing the Narrative for Albemarle County Schools, she partnered with James Madison’s Montpelier and other community organizations to build the capacity of K-12 educators to design anti-racist/anti-bias and culturally responsive inquiry-based units that will be available open source on C3 Teachers.

Neeley has presented at statewide conferences on anti-racist/anti-bias instructional practices, teaching through inquiry, scaffolding for inquiry, and providing comprehensible input to increase the accessibility of inquiry-based instruction for multilingual learners.

Jessica Kimpell Johnson is the Director of Research for the Karsh Institute of Democracy and Manager of the Nau Lab on the History & Principles of Democracy with the Democracy Initiative at UVA. She received her doctorate in politics from the University of Oxford, where she was a Truman Scholar. Prior to teaching and working at UVA, she taught at Columbia University in the Department of Political Science for eight years. Her work has been published in the European Political Science Review, European Journal of Political Theory and on OpenDemocracy.net. She has edited and annotated a collection of the works of Thomas Paine and has written opinion essays for various media outlets. Her teaching and research interests are largely in the history of political thought and contemporary political theory, specializing in democratic thought and republicanism. Before her doctoral studies, she received an M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University and worked as a journalist covering the U.S. Congress for Congressional Quarterly (CQ) in Washington, D.C. Her B.A. is in Political Science from the University of Minnesota.


Marc Selverstone is an associate professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center and chair of the Center’s Presidential Recordings Program. He earned a BA degree in philosophy from Trinity College (CT), a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University, and a PhD in history from Ohio University. A historian of the Cold War, he is the author of Constructing the Monolith: The United States, Great Britain, and International Communism, 1945-1950 (Harvard, 2009), which won the Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and The Kennedy Withdrawal: Camelot and the American Commitment to Vietnam (Harvard, 2022). He is the general editor of The Presidential Recordings Digital Edition, the primary online portal for transcripts of the tapes, published by the University of Virginia Press, editor of A Companion to John F. Kennedy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), and co-editor of the Miller Center’s “Studies on the Presidency” series with UVA Press.

Stefanie Georgakis Abbott is the director of programming at the Karsh Institute of Democracy at the University of Virginia. Before joining the Karsh Institute of Democracy, she served as the associate director of presidential studies at UVA’s Miller Center of Public Affairs from 2014 to 2022, where she also co-directed the Hillary Rodham Clinton Oral History Project. Previously, Stefanie taught courses on political science and international relations at Virginia Tech and Radford University and supported project management for the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security. She is the co-editor of Crucible: The President’s First Year (with Michael Nelson and Jeff Chidester) and Addressing Integration and Exclusion: Democracy, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Intervention (with Yannis Stivachtis). She has published journal articles and book chapters on immigration and nationalism, EU integration, the American presidency, and international relations theory. Stefanie holds a BA degree in international studies and a BA degree in French from Virginia Tech, an MA degree in nationalism studies from Central European University, and a PhD in public and international affairs from Virginia Tech.


October 22, 2022 10:00am

UVA Miller Center

2201 Old Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA 22904

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