The Secretary of State’s office has empaneled a committee of accomplished teachers from across the state to develop new lesson plans and teaching aids based on information contained in the Tennessee Blue Book.
The Blue Book, considered the definitive almanac of Tennessee state government, is produced every other year by the Secretary of State’s office. The Blue Book contains a wealth of information about the governor, state legislators, state legislative committees, administrative departments of state government and the government’s structure. It also contains information about local governments, the federal government, state history and much more.
“For years, teachers have used the Blue Book to help teach their students valuable lessons about civics,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “This new committee will be charged with developing some structured curricula that teachers can use in their classrooms. I want to thank all the committee members for their service and I’m excited about the work they will produce.”
The members of the group, known as the Secretary of State’s Blue Book Curriculum Task force, are:
* William Freddy Curtis. A 28-year veteran teacher, Curtis currently teaches U.S. government, sociology and AP U.S. government and politics at Cannon County High School.
“I am excited to be part of the SOS Blue Book Curriculum Task Force to utilize a great Tennessee treasure – the Tennessee Blue Book – in classrooms across Tennessee,” Curtis said. “The Blue Book is a fantastic resource filled with primary source documents that can be correlated to the new Tennessee social studies standards that were adopted last year. I anticipate helping in this process, and I look forward to working with other teachers to achieve this goal.”
* Lain Whitaker. A 35-year veteran of teaching, Whitaker currently teaches American history at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Shelby County.
“I am looking forward to meeting and working with other educators who are interested in promoting civic education in Tennessee,” Whitaker said.
* Addison Pate. A fourth-year teacher, Pate teaches AP U.S. history and U.S. government honors classes at Ravenwood High School in Williamson County.
“Too many Tennesseans today know little about how their local, state and federal governments work,” Pate said. “My hope is that our task force, by creating effective civics content strategies, reverses this trend and helps Tennessee’s next generation better understand their democracy as well as their role within it.”
* Gordon Sisk. A 27-year veteran, Sisk teaches U.S. government, AP U.S. government, U.S. history and AP U.S. history at Karns High School in Knox County.
“I am so fired up about the opportunity to create some lessons from the Blue Book,” Sisk said. “I hope to create lessons to draw attention to geography and to civil rights in Tennessee.”
* Rebecca Marino. An 18-year veteran, Marino is a library media specialist at Arnold Memorial School with Cleveland City Schools in Bradley County.
“In 2013 the National Council for the Social Studies stated, ‘It is time to demonstrate our commitment to democratic principles, our willingness to engage in the democratic process, and our core values that join us as ‘We the People’ to promote civic learning policies and programs,'” Marino said. “I am so excited to be part of the Secretary of State’s Blue Book Curriculum Task Force, creating lessons and curriculum for our state’s students.”
* Erika Ashford. A 10-year veteran, Ashford teaches U.S. government, contemporary issues and African American history at Ridgeway High School in Shelby County.
“I am looking forward to working with educators across the state to create a curriculum that will educate, equip and engage our students in grasping the importance of civic duty and responsibility, Ashford said. “In the time we live in today in America it is imperative that we educate our students on not only the content of our government, but on how to be politically astute as it relates to the well being of their own families and communities.”
* Cindy Bellamy. A sixth-year teacher, Bellamy teaches social studies and writing at John Adams Elementary School at Kingsport City Schools in Sullivan County.
“Being part of the Blue Book Curriculum Task Force will provide me with the opportunity to assist with the creation of lessons that introduce students to the concept of human rights and the fundamental freedoms as outlined in the Constitution of the United States,” Bellamy said. “I strongly believe that it is of significant importance to instill in students the knowledge of how to become active, effective, and thoughtful citizens. I look forward to being a part of a task force that helps to educate others about our government, state, and civic duties.”
The group has been asked to create two sets of education materials that would comply with the standards of the state’s social studies curriculum by June 30.