Central Oregon Daily▶️ ‘Not just rights’: La Pine teacher earns Constitution-focused fellowship

▶️ ‘Not just rights’: La Pine teacher earns Constitution-focused fellowship

▶️ ‘Not just rights’: La Pine teacher earns Constitution-focused fellowship

▶️ La Pine teacher earns prestigious social studies fellowship; heading to D.C.

A La Pine Middle School teacher has earned the prestigious James Madison Foundation Fellowship, which is considered to be one of the highest honors a social studies teacher can receive. Jessica Colburn was one of only 54 teachers across the nation to earn the honor this year.

Colburn, who has been with the school since 2017, teaches 8th grade social studies and electives.

The born-and-raised Bendite says the heightened political climate over the last few years has made understanding and interpreting the Constitution that much more critical for students.

“Very, very important that our students know what their rights are, but also the rights of others,” Colburn said. “It’s not just rights, but responsibilities that are in this really important document and we need to start teaching them now. So that way, when they get to be of voting age, that they’re able to handle these rights and responsibilities responsibly.”

It is this passion, on top of an essay-based application, that earned Colburn the fellowship.

The rare opportunity, which Colburn applied for twice before, is earned by one social studies teacher per year in each state.

“Their whole goal is to get quality Constitutional education back in the classroom,” Colburn said. “They figure that the best way to do that is to create those experts who are already in the classroom to go back and spread that knowledge to the students.” 

While spending five weeks in Washington, D.C., Colburn says the fellowship will allow her to expand her knowledge on the Constitution and the United States.

“We get to routinely meet with legislatures, both from the Senate and the House,” Colburn said. “And also have informal and formal conversations with current sitting Supreme Court justices.”

Colburn says she is excited to bring this knowledge back into her classroom and would love to create a Constitution-based elective at La Pine Middle School.

“They [students] don’t deserve someone in the classroom who’s just going to give them a half an education or what they think is important,” Colburn said. “They really need the whole gambit of things. If I’m able to give that to them through this fellowship, I know that I’m doing my job correctly.”

Colburn will also begin her graduate studies at Ashland University in Ohio this summer.

La Pine teacher one of 54 in US to receive prestigious social studies award

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