Three Faulkner County teachers were recognized by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Education on June 29 at the Clinton Presidential Center.

Ty Hendricks, a Conway High School AP psychology and U.S. history teacher; Karen Hall, a Greenbrier High School visual art teacher; and Erin Shaw, a Greenbrier Middle School librarian were three of the 26 educators statewide who participated in the the program's third year.

“The ADOL program was a wonderful experience,” Hall said. “I was reminded how important civic engagement is to our schools and community. I will definitely make [the civic engagement] project an annual event.”

The program uses historic art and objects from state and national museums and libraries to develop innovative lesson plans centered around civic engagement.

“This program allowed students to link concepts throughout history and then produce something based on those concepts,” Hendricks said. “My students left class saying they felt that they had a better understanding of how to discuss complex contemporary politics, even when they disagree with others."

The Declaration of Learning program was formed in 2013 as part of an inter-agency educational initiative that began when representatives from 13 national organizations signed the Declaration of Learning.

“The ADOL civic engagement project opened the lesson to encompass diversity,” Shaw said. “It brought the students together and taught them to think outside their world.”

Arkansas is the first state to participate in the program.

“I am proud of the Arkansas educators who have dedicated their time and expertise to making the Arkansas Declaration of Learning initiative a success,” Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key said. “Arkansas is the first state in the country to implement this national program, and through our partnerships with other organizations, we have enhanced student learning by providing access to historical objects that are rich in history. Together we are transforming Arkansas to lead the nation in student-focused education.”

Over the past three years, partners have collaborated with Arkansas educators and school librarians who teach art, English language arts and social studies for grades six through 12. To date, more than 6,000 Arkansas students have participated in classroom lessons and civic engagement projects developed through the program.

“This program is a great learning experience for teachers and students,” said Cassandra Barnett, the ADE program advisor for school libraries. “Teachers who participate receive extensive training and support from history and art experts throughout the development of the lesson plans.

"Because of the hard work of these teachers, students have the opportunity to explore real world issues using art and historic objects. We want our students to see that the past can inform our present, and through civic engagement, they can impact our future.”

For more information about the program or see a list of past participants, visit bit.ly/2Ig48WQ.