Congratulations to the 2021-2022 recipients of the Elizabeth "Libby" Kingseed Teaching with Deliberation Memorial Award, Lisa Bietau and Brandon Thornton. The following is more information about this year's recipients.
Brandon Thornton teaches 11th grade language arts and 12th grade mathematics at Bloomington High School in Bloomington, IL, where he has taught for 10 years, 8 of which teaching general education mathematics. He just finished his seventh year as head coach of the school’s state and national qualifying speech and debate team. He also devotes time to sponsoring various clubs and Lights On, an initiative that focuses on engaging, empowering, and educating students. Through this work, numerous programs, clubs, and events have become permanent fixtures at Bloomington High School, including a student-led Alternative Breaks program and a social justice club geared toward teaching students how to research, identify systemic structures, and advocate for their needs. Thornton holds a BA in mathematics education from Illinois State University and an MA in special education from Illinois State University, and he is currently working toward an EdD from Illinois State University in special education.
Lisa Bietau has served Kansas Public Schools for nearly forty years at both the K–12 and university levels. A graduate of Northern Michigan (BA, elementary education), Wichita State University (MS, education psychology), and Kansas State University (PhD, curriculum and instruction), her common focus has been supporting project-based learning and student-led interest groups. Science Olympiad, Future City, Model United Nations, History Day, Debate Club, and Green Team are some of the project teams she facilitated while building school culture and promoting student leadership and self-directed learning. In each case, civic engagement was a hands-on, minds-on theme for projects targeted to engage and empower students in their communities. She is currently working with Manhattan-Ogden Public Schools and Kansas 4-H to increase the impact and opportunity for students to engage in civic actions. Her desire is for community groups to connect, create, and celebrate student success at the classroom, school, and state levels.
While engaged in student-led leadership initiatives throughout her career, Bietau developed a network of project partners, including Kansas State University (KSU) College of Education, Kansas State University Center for Civil Discourse and Democracy, KSU’s Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, and Kansas 4-H Extension Citizens in Action teams. Working collaboratively to support student leadership training at the secondary level and applying civic education through civic engagement, civil discourse and youth facilitation of community conversations, she has trained students to be state-wide student leaders and facilitators. Her vision for youth leaders to plan, create, and execute action plans that contribute to community forums and communication workshops not only became a reality last year, but continues as these experienced leaders share their knowledge and experience with their peers and future youth leaders.
Her goal in the coming year is to expand youth leadership and civic engagement to the high school level and beyond via KSU 4-H networks. New ideas and formats are expected as students spark interest in peers and adapt to ever-changing circumstances. If communities continue to sponsor forums that model civil discourse and challenge students to apply civil communication skills when engaged in conversations on complex topics, they will also promote active listening and foster deeper understanding as they seek common ground in diverse groups. These conversations and action plans help students build skills and confidence and create opportunities for community involvement that develop and empower future leaders.
About the Elizabeth "Libby" Kingseed Awards
The Elizabeth "Libby" Kingseed Teaching with Deliberation Memorial Award recognizes the commitment she had to civic education, especially her support of teacher networking, experimentation, and reflection on the use of deliberation in the classroom.
The $500 award is open to any K-12 teacher who is inspired to implement deliberation or deliberative pedagogy in the classroom and who is new to using the practices. The teacher should have demonstrated commitment to fostering the civic development of students though it is not necessary that they be a civics or social studies teacher. All K-12 teachers are encouraged to apply.
Libby Kingseed was a program officer and archivist at the Kettering Foundation. She was a passionate leader of the foundation's K-12 civic education research and worked closely with teachers using National Issues Forum (NIF) in the classroom. Libby recognized the need for civic education to be included in the education of children in order to help them understand how to be active, engaged citizens in the future.