The panel was hosted by Dr. Janet Tran, Director of the Center for Civics, Education, and Opportunity. The panelists included Dr. Randell Trammel the CEO of the Georgia Center for Civic Engagement, Melanie Kellam, a professional learning specialist for Henry County School District and Krish Patel, student at North Oconee High School and state president for the Georgia Center for Civic Engagement.

Tran asked the panelists to speak about the importance of civic education on a macro level. Trammell, spoke about the legislative work being done across the country to ensure students are learning civics.

“Here in Georgia we had one establishing the Commission on Civic Education,” said Trammell.

He continued that there is also federal legislation currently in the works that would provide additional funding for civic education and American history.

Kellam, who was Henry County’s Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2020 before her promotion to professional learning specialist, said hands-on experience was one of the best ways to teach students to become active citizens.

“I believe that bringing learning to life— and civic learning especially— to life, prepares students to be active citizens when they are able to do so,” Kellem said.

One way she said she’s done this in the past is by having her students role play as elected officials and giving them the opportunity to write legislation.

The only current K-12 student on the panel, Krish Patel told the panelists about his time as state president and the work the Georgia Center for Civic Engagement is doing with students across the state.

Throughout the fall semester, he said the center hosted a town hall for Georgia’s middle and high school students to inform them about the programs that are offered to them to increase civic engagement.

“We just want to reach out and encompass as many students as we can, that’s what I’m working toward right now,” Patel said.

The panelists also spoke about how civic education is important to people who don’t want to pursue political science.

“I remember having a conversation with someone saying, I’m a STEM person, why should I be concerned with policy or government,” said Patel. “And I said, well you’re going to have to pay taxes at some point, what’s that going to look like?”

Patel continued to say that civics encompases all aspects of life whether or not you choose to pursue it as a career.
The full panel conversation can be found on the Reagan Foundation’s Youtube.

Madeline Thigpen is an education reporter and Report for America Corps Member. She joined the Atlanta Voice in 2021. At the Voice she covers K-12 education for the Atlanta metro region and higher education....