At the beginning of February, we welcomed two new Regional Program Managers to our team – Amy and Frank.
Amy Sabbadini is our Regional Program Manager for the Central Oregon area. Frank Honts joins our team as a Regional Program Manager in Southern Oregon.
We took some time to get to know Amy and Frank a little better in this month’s Spotlight interview.
Who are you? What is your role at CLP? And tell us about your experience before joining CLP.
Amy: Civics Learning Project is expanding its reach and I am the first Central Oregon Regional Program Manager. Prior to joining this team, I served as a classroom teacher for two decades. Most of my time was in social studies at Bend Senior High School doing US History and teaching in our International Baccalaureate program. I love curriculum development and especially project based learning for students. I also teach in the Masters of Teaching program at OSU-Cascades because I enjoy mentoring the next generation of educators.
Frank: I am currently the Southern Oregon Regional Program Manager for CLP. I have split my professional career between two personal passions—education and theater. In education, I have worked in evaluation/research, as a history/social studies teacher, and as a facilitator for teachers committed to improving their practices and the structural conditions of the schools where they work. I began my career in education as a Work Study student at the Coalition of Essential Schools (located at the time in Providence, Rhode Island); the Ten Common Principles of CES (for example, schools should be places where students learn to use their minds well; less is more; students learn to take responsibility for their own learning and teachers act more as coaches than deliverers of information; assessments require students to demonstrate what they have learned through exhibitions of their work; and the community advocates for and enacts equitable and democratic practices) guide my beliefs about schools to this day.
When/how did you first start interacting with CLP?
Amy: It’s hard to remember exactly when it all started… I have attended several Oregon Civics Conferences in the Capitol and found them so inspirational. I was also part of one of the teacher cohorts, so did the Summer Institute at Willamette University and women’s suffrage workshop at U of O. One year, I was teaching a mock trial class and relied heavily on CLP’s online curriculum to help me prepare my lessons. In all my classes last year, students were on the current events CLP page pretty frequently. I try to bring in a CLP staff presentation to my graduate students too each year. This year they participated in a town hall simulation on gun ownership.
Frank: I was born in Oregon and spent my childhood here. After living for many years on the East Coast and in the Midwest, I recently returned to Oregon, so I am new to CLP. I am so excited to be back in my home state working for an organization whose mission and programs align so closely with my values and offer vital resources to teachers committed to civic education and democracy.
What’s your favorite part of CLP?
Amy: Fostering communication and collaboration in classrooms. CLP gives teachers the resources they need to have productive and relevant conversations in classrooms so students practice civic participation even before they are voters.
Frank: In the short time I have been with CLP, I appreciate getting to work with such intelligent, committed, kind, and energetic colleagues. They believe deeply in our organization’s mission, and our leaders value the variety of perspectives and experiences each of us brings to this important enterprise. Patience, persistence, commitment, and trust in teachers act as the foundational values for CLP programming and ensure that our work will outlast the flash-in-the-pan professional development du jour. By allowing our principles to guide our practice, CLP gives teachers the thoughtful, nuanced, engaging resources they need in order to inspire and motivate their students.
Why is civics education important to you? Why should young Oregonians care about it?
Amy: Democracy can’t survive if it isn’t practiced. It is a verb, not a noun. Modeling civic interaction in the classroom is paramount to keeping our republic vibrant. Students are future decision-makers. We can’t expect them to be active citizens if we don’t teach them how to be curious, to explore other perspectives, gather information, weigh advantages and disadvantages of decisions and then collaborate.
Frank: I am worried about the future of our country—and of the survival of democracy around the world. In our society, our connections to one another are tenuous, technology has enabled people to siphon off into their own silos, and toxic polarization threatens to erode our collective commitment to democracy. In my view, there are only a couple other times in American history when our existence has been so threatened. That said, I feel tremendous hope when I talk to young people, because I believe they comprehend the urgency of the moment better than many adults do, and they are committed to doing something about it. Young people should care about civic education because, at its best, it will connect them with tools to enact positive change, allow them to learn from others (elders, mentors, and peers) who have already experienced success, and challenge them to listen and learn from people with different experiences and viewpoints. I can think of few challenges—and opportunities—that are more crucial to our shared future as a state and a country.
Anything else we should know about you?
Amy: I think conversations around a dinner table with friends and family are important salons for ideas and civic virtue. Sharing food is integral to human connections, so I practice that frequently.
Frank: I am a bit of an introvert and a homebody (nothing gives me more pleasure than curling up with a good book), but I find my greatest challenge and fulfillment comes from getting outside of my own comfort zone and doing things for others and/or on behalf of the common good. As far as hobbies go, I’m a birder, I love theater, I’ve played the piano for most of my life, and more recently, I’ve been learning to knit.