This summer, we welcomed two new members to the Civics Learning Project team! Chris Parrucci, Senior Program Manager, and Kacey Dewing, Southern Oregon Regional Program Manager.
CHRIS PARRUCCI is our new Senior Program Manager. Prior to joining CLP, Chris has divided his career between the legal, education, and nonprofit fields. He will lead Mock Trial, Street Law, Current Events, Law Day, and co-support professional development opportunities.
He has taught high school Social Studies courses in both New York and Oregon, including United States History and Government, Global History and Geography, Native American History, and Themes of World and United States History. He has experience as an outside educator and curriculum developer for various nonprofit organizations.
KACEY DEWING is our new Regional Program Manager for Southern Oregon, supporting teachers, students, and programs in that region.
Kacey has over 20 years of experience as a classroom social studies teacher and mock trial coach in both Oregon and Washington. Her passion as a teacher, regardless of the subject matter, is to inspire student engagement both in the classroom and in the world. Kacey’s particular interests include civic engagement, geography, US history, and the Middle East.
Who are you? What is your role at CLP? And tell us about your experience before joining CLP.
Chris: I am one of the Senior Program Managers at CLP. Some of my responsibilities include being in charge of Oregon State High School Mock Trial competition, teaching Street Law at Lewis & Clark Law School, and coordinating the Law Day Conference for Students. I am a New York transplant, having been born and raised just outside of New York City and from the time I moved out of my childhood home living in various New York City boroughs (Manhattan, Queens, and most recently Brooklyn). I graduated from New York University with a B.S. in Secondary Social Studies Education and a minor in American History. I went on to teach American History and Government at the high school level and then transitioned to the legal field once I began attending law school at The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. After graduating from law school and passing the NY State bar I worked for a number of nonprofits centered around education, civic engagement, and social justice. Following a brief but delightful return to the classroom, I moved out west to Portland in March of 2020.
Kacey: In addition to my new role as CLP’s Southern Oregon Regional Program Manager, I am in my 20th year as a teacher at St. Mary’s School in Medford. For my entire teaching career (even before I moved from Washington), I have coached Mock Trial teams. Before officially joining CLP last summer, I worked to promote Mock Trial by assisting CLP with materials creation, training teachers, and organizing local scrimmages.
When/how did you first start interacting with CLP?
Chris: When I first moved to Oregon, a friend and former colleague who had taken Street Law when it was originally taught by Marilyn Cover, told me all about the organization. She knew my passion for education, civic engagement, and youth empowerment and thought I’d be interested in getting involved. She was correct!
Kacey: As soon as I moved to Oregon in 2000, I started participating in CLP Mock Trial events. One of the highlights of my 20-year relationship with CLP was joining Marilyn Cover and a group of Oregon high school students on a Democracy Education trip to Croatia for a comparative legal system exploration with Croatian students and teachers.
What’s your favorite part of CLP?
Chris: I believe that education is most impactful for anyone when it’s grounded in action. To experience the processes involved in civic engagement, government, and community action gives students the tools necessary to be active and engaged members of their local, state, and national community. I believe the more people who participate in their communities the healthier our communities and democracy will be. CLP affords so many opportunities for students, teachers, and others to get involved, connect, and learn. I truly enjoy being a part of a team that brings that to Oregon.
Kacey: My educational philosophy holds that students learn better when they handle real-world issues, assume ownership of their learning outcomes, and are actively engaged. I also strive to ensure my teaching simultaneously guides students to develop three realms of learning: academic content, intellectual skills, and effective social interaction. CLP programs offer students learning experiences that meet all of these attributes, making them ideal for furthering student learning.
Why is civics education important to you? Why should young Oregonians care about it?
Chris: The health of any community rests on its community members. When folks are grounded in a strong foundational knowledge of how their governments work and how those governments interact with their day-to-day lives, the better equipped they are to ensure that their voices are heard and the institutions and ideals that bind us together remain strong.
Kacey: Everything I do as an educator is, at the most fundamental level, designed to guide students to be informed and empowered citizens who believe in the future and their individual abilities to mold and shape that future for the better. History has proven time and again that the success of any society is directly correlated to the positive involvement of those it is made up of. In the ideal, every single member of society, not just the social scientists, but also the gas station attendants and the rocket scientists, would have the tools to be informed and engaged citizens. For many Americans, the K-12 years will be the only time they are challenged to develop these tools. As educators, we must make the most of that small window.
Anything else we should know about you?
Chris: I can typically be found spending time with my wife and our cat. I am a huge animal lover and nature lover. Since my move west, I’ve found a new love for hiking and began homebrewing as well. Though I’m now in a different time zone, I’m still a big New York Giants, Brooklyn Nets, and New York Knicks fan.
Kacey: I am a native of Southern Oregon, but have lived in other states and countries before returning here to raise my two daughters on a small farm with my parents. I have also lived and/or traveled to 19 other countries, often on educational trips with students. I also enjoy gardening, home improvement, and designing cool stuff to be built including a camping trailer, several houses, arbors, gazebos, and porches, and a treehouse.
October 5, 2021