Building Engaged Citizens: iEngage Summer Civics Institute Returns to Baylor Campus Aug. 1-5
- (L to R) - Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Suttell and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht present Baylor Education Professor Karon LeCompte with the National Center for State Courts’ Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education. The award recognized the Baylor iEngage Summer Civics Institute for its innovative work in the field of civics education related to the justice system. (Phot o courtesy of NCSC)
- The iEngage Summer Civics Institute at Baylor University focuses on the structure of government including playing online iCivics games.
WACO, Texas (Aug. 1, 2022) – Returning to the Baylor University campus for the first time since 2019, nearly 100 rising middle school students will attend Baylor’s nationally recognized iEngage Summer Civics Institute Aug. 1-5.
The free civics camp recently was named the 2022 recipient of the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education — an annual award, presented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), that recognized iEngage for its work to promote, inspire, improve and lead innovation in the field of civics education related to the justice system.
“The iEngage team embraces their responsibility to provide high-quality civic education to students and educators across various communities and has even bigger plans, including a high school internship program,” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht said in his nomination letter for the Baylor program. “I am so proud that Texas lays claim to this innovative and effective program, and I am hopeful that the model will expand to other states in time.”
Founded in 2013, Baylor’s iEngage Summer Civics Institute was the vision of School of Education faculty members Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., associate professor of curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in social studies education, and Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., former associate professor, chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and The Conwell G. Strickland Endowed Chair. Blevins now serves as the dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences at the University of Idaho.
LeCompte traveled to Chicago to accept the Sandra Day O’Connor Award July 26 at the annual joint conference of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators.
“We are so honored to receive the 2022 Sandra Day O’Connor Award and are truly grateful for the national recognition for Baylor and the School of Education. Perhaps the greatest reward, though, is the number of students who have been inspired by what they’ve learned during our iEngage summer civics camp and have gone on to make an impact in their communities,” LeCompte said.
The iEngage program is designed to help middle school students learn how to make a difference in their schools, neighborhoods and communities. Funded by Baylor and the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation, the program curriculum is furthering its impact by expanding to new locations. TCU in Fort Worth has hosted a summer institute since 2016, and faculty from Indiana University’s Bloomington and Columbus campuses are at Baylor this summer to experience iEngage in anticipation of launching the program at one or more of their 10 campuses.
iEngage focuses on the structure of government, what it means to be an active and engaged citizen and how participants can make an impact as young people. Baylor School of Education students are program counselors, giving them an opportunity to practice valuable skills and work with young people. Additionally, the institute features a field trip to a legislative library to explore primary source artifacts, simulations of effective communication and deliberation hosted by Baylor Law School, opportunities to meet with local civic and political leaders and playing iCivics online games.
iCivics was founded by Justice O’Connor in 2009 to ensure that all Americans have the knowledge and will to participate in the country’s unique experiment in self-government. Since then, iCivics has become the nation’s premier non-profit civic education provider of high-quality, non-partisan, engaging and free resources to more than nine million students annually in all 50 states. LeCompte and Blevins, along with other Baylor Education faculty and graduate students, have conducted extensive research on civics education, technology and teacher preparation, including the effectiveness of iCivics for teaching civics concepts to primary and middle school students.
LeCompte and others also have taken the iEngage into regular school classroom. In 2019, LeCompte led a weeklong iEngage experience during the school year for 22 fifth graders in the east Texas community of Latexo, where school leaders devoted half of the class day to iEngage activities, with a culminating presentation by students at the Latexo Community Center. LeCompte also adapted the First Amendment section of the iEngage curriculum for use during the school day at Midway ISD’s Spring Valley Elementary.
Baylor Ph.D. students also led iEngage programs in schools in the fall of 2021, with a program for 500 students at Midway Middle School and another in Longview, Texas. The Ph.D. students imbedded a weekly lesson into social studies classes, running for 12 weeks, and are developing in-school curriculum as part of dissertation research on iEngage.
ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
For more than 100 years, Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, leaders in K12 and higher education, psychologists, professors, researchers, and more. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice. Visit baylor.edu/SOE to learn more.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.