Heronfield Academy humanities instructor Don Clark has been awarded the James Madison Fellowship, America’s most prestigious award in Constitutional history and government for secondary teachers. Founded by an Act of Congress, the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation is an independent agency of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

From the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation website:
The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation of Alexandria, VA announced that it has selected 53 James Madison Fellows for 2017 in its twenty-sixth annual fellowship competition. James Madison Fellowships support the graduate study of American history by aspiring and experienced secondary school teachers of American history, American government, and civics.
Named in honor of the fourth president of the United States and acknowledged “Father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” a James Madison Fellowship funds up to $24,000 of each Fellow’s course of study towards a master’s degree. That program must include a concentration of courses on the history and principles of the United States Constitution.
The award is intended to recognize promising and distinguished teachers, to strengthen their knowledge of the origins and development of American constitutional government, and thus to expose the nation’s secondary school students to accurate knowledge of the nation’s constitutional heritage.

Don is pursuing a Master of Science in Political Science with a concentration in International Affairs from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, while continuing to teach here at Heronfield. This summer he attended the James Madison Fellowship Foundation summer institute at Georgetown University. The course of study was American Constitutionalism, with a focus on the founding of the nation, as well as the fundamental principles of the Constitution that unite the people of our republic. The month-long, rigorous graduate program featured daily lectures and discussions led by four of the nation’s finest Constitutional scholars.

The first day of the Summer Institute was a visit to the Supreme Court (see above) where Don and the Madison Fellows were treated to a rare 45-minute conversation with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in the court chambers. During his time in Washington, Don spoke with several Federal Court Judges, as well as former US Secretary of Education John King, also a Madison Fellow (pictured below).

Don also met with his senator, Susan Collins (below), and discussed the need for greater civil discourse, particularly in federal government. After his meeting with the Senator, Don spoke with her staffers and relayed concerns that Heronfield students have voiced, particularly in regards to climate change and the role of Congress in oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Don’s time in Washington allowed him to explore the African American History Museum, to study at the Library of Congress, and to spend days debating with fellow history teachers the ideas of the Founders. Don is looking forward to the new school year and to sharing his experiences in Washington with the Heronfield community.