Civics Education Resource Site

Find a Mentor

Lead Teacher Mentor

Mary Ellen Daneels is a National Board Certified teacher who has taught at West Chicago Community High School for 26 years. She has been recognized as the Law-related Educator of the Year from the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago, Teacher of the Year by the 19th District of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Civic Education Teacher from the Center for Civic Education. Mary Ellen has presented on service learning, simulations, and the use of controversy in the classroom at the local, state, and national level as well as provided professional development workshops in Estonia, Angola, and Belarus. A member of the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition, Mary Ellen has advocated for civic education before federal and state lawmakers. She serves on the Board of Directors for the National Council of the Social Studies and recently worked on a task force to revise Social Studies standards in the state of Illinois.

Email Mary Ellen

Can't attend a regional training? Mary Ellen Daneels is organizing professional development sessions that can be scheduled at your convenience during the 2017-18 school year. Download a list of workshops and instructions for scheduling.

Mentor Liaison

Barb Laimins is a retired educator who taught social studies for 21 years at West Chicago Community High School after leaving a nursing career. Her major teaching assignments were American Government and Psychology. She has served as a legislative liaison for a state representative, school board president and Teacher Union President and is a self-proclaimed "political junkie". 

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Karen Kelly taught in the area of special education for 17 years before transferring to her current teaching position in social science at Scales Mound High School 12 years ago. She has taught social science classes ranging from American and world history, government/civics, geography, psychology, sociology, and current events. While at Scales Mound, Karen has served on many different committees, including implementing the school’s 1:1 technology program, and is currently a member of the district’s curriculum committee. She has co-lead a student trip to Costa Rica in 2016 and will be co-leading a student group to Germany in 2018. During the summer of 2017 Karen and a group of students will be traveling to Malawi, Africa, with the Global Concerns Classroom program and Concern Worldwide.

Region: Carroll, JoDaviess & Stephenson Counties | Email Karen


Teresa Kruger is currently an Instructional Mentor and the K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator for Belvidere District #100 in Belvidere, IL. She also serves as the Region 2 Representative to Illinois Council for the Social Studies. Teresa has been a secondary social studies educator for over 20 years and recognizes the important role of civic education. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the teaching of controversial issues in secondary social studies and she co-authored the book chapter, “Oliver, Shaver, and Newmann’s Public Issues’s Model: Promoting Productive Civic Discussions” in Educating About Social Issues in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Region: Boone & Winnebago Counties | Email Teresa


Jason M. Artman is the Social Studies Department Chariperson at Mendota Township High School, where he teaches Civics, U.S. History, and Honors U.S. History. He has participated in the National History Project's Doing History: Reconsidering the American History Course, the Center for Civic Education's We the People conference, and the U.S. Department of Education's Teaching American History Grant program. In October, he presented at the Western History Association Conference in partnership with the University of Notre Dame, Illinois State University, and the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program. Along with other Illinois Civics Mentors, he helped write the OnlineImpact Illinois Civics Workshop.

Region: LaSalle, Marshall & Putnam Counties | Email Jason


Mike GoessmanMichael Goessman is currently teaching Government, U.S. History, and Economics at Bureau Valley High School in Manlius IL. I am married to my wonderful wife Pam of 35 years. I plan on retiring at the end of this school year, and I am looking forward to traveling and seeing my 8 wonderful grandchildren. Pam and I have 4 children, 3 boys and a girl.

Region: Lee, Ogle & Whiteside Counties | Email Michael


Alex Johnson is a Social Studies teacher at Orion High School for the past seven years. He spent three years previously at Kewanee High School. He currently teaches U.S. Government/Civics and U.S. History. In the past, he has taught World History, Consumer Education, Current Events, Sociology and Cultural Geography. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he also is the Dean of Students and Head Varsity Boys’ Basketball coach at Orion. He graduated from Illinois State University in 2008 with a B.S. in History Education and and from Western Illinois University in 2014 with a M.A. in Instructional Design and Technology. He is a member of the National Council for Social Studies. His wife is Katie and has two sons Jack (3) and Sam (1).

Region: Bureau, Henry & Stark Counties | Email Alex


David Potthast is a retired educator who taught social studies for 21 years at Rockridge High School after having retired from the United States Navy, where he served as a Surface Warfare and Naval Intelligence Officer. His major areas of teaching included U.S. and World History, American Government, and World Cultures. Additionally, he taught dual credit U.S. History courses as an Adjunct Professor for Black Hawk College. He received his BA in History from Eastern Illinois University in 1976 and earned his MA in History from Western Illinois University in 2001. Since then he has added to his post-graduate education. Between 2006 and 2012 he participated in the Department of Education’s teacher travel grant as well as other professional workshops as an attendee and presenter. Currently, he is working part-time as the Social Studies consultant for the Rock Island Regional Office of Education #49 and is preparing professional development presentations to be offered to area educators.

Region: Rock Island County | Email David


Steven Stukenberg has been a Social Science teacher at Jacobs High School (District 300) for the past 20 years. Stukenberg has taught Social Science classes ranging from US History, World history and Government but specializes in Honors/AP Government. He has been a sponsor of student clubs like Student Council, Political Activist club, Government Club, and Music performance club. Stukenberg has a passion for politics and participates in various governmental functions on the city and county level.

Region: De Kalb County | Email Steven

 North Suburban

Jennifer Conlon teaches Government, ESL through AP, at Maine East High School, which became a Democracy School in 2013. She also sponsors Demon-cracy, Maine East's Government and Politics Club. She has facilitated student participation in elections, helped students run Citizenship workshops to prepare adults for the test, coached students in grant-writing to secure funding for home wifi for students without, and tried to bring the larger world to her students, including skyping with a grad active in the Syrian Revolution. Over the past several years, she has worked to include service learning in her classes and to make simulations increasingly authentic. A former attorney and Congressional staffer, she enjoys making democracy accessible to all her students and is delighted to help others do the same.

Region: North Cook County ISC 1 | Email Jennifer 


Grant Murray is the Social Studies Department Chair at Antioch Community High School in Antioch, Illinois. Murray led ACHS in its pursuit of Democracy School recognition, which was achieved in 2015. Murray is an active member of the Democracy School Network, including presenting on current and controversial topics at the 2016 Illinois Civic Mission Coalition Convening and connecting with the community at NCSS 2015 in New Orleans. Murray continues to lead his school's push for civic education across the curriculum.

Region: Lake County | Email Grant


John Pellikan is a National Board Certified Social Science teacher who serves as the International Studies Division Leader at Prairie Ridge High School. He successfully led Prairie Ridge in becoming the first school in McHenry County to be recognized as a Democracy School in 2015. Pellikan has been a presenter at NCSS multiple times, runs an annual workshop for U.S. History teachers with such speakers as Eric Foner and James Loewen, leads staff development in C3 instruction, and has experience working to modify curriculum to be aligned with the ultimate goal of educating an informed and active citizenry. He has been a regular participant in various civics-based conversations and looks forward to working with educators across the state to help students better fulfill their role as citizen.

Region: McHenry County | Email John


Christine Jaegle has taught social studies at Lisle Senior High School for a total of 7 years, returning this past school year after taking time off to raise her children. 15 years ago she helped to implement the Legislative Semester there, a Government curriculum where seniors participate in a semester long congressional simulation. She has also helped develop a new Civics course directed at sophomores with many of the same principles. Chris will also sponsor the Lisle Youth and Government club this coming school year. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from North Central College. When not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband, a math teacher at Lisle Senior High School, and her two sons. They reside in Aurora.

Region: DuPage County | Email Christine


Tyler VanLandeghemTyler VanLandeghem is currently a social studies teacher at Oswego East High School in Oswego, Illinois. I have taught government, politics, and civics for over six years. Prior to joining the Oswego East team, I spent four years teaching at LaSalle-Peru Township High School. I was born and raised in Batavia, Illinois and currently reside right next door in Warrenville. I attended Illinois State University to become a history teacher, but my passion turned to government and politics when I began teaching. I am currently getting my master’s in political science from the University of Illinois Springfield. The only thing I enjoy more than civics is a good Formula 1 or NASCAR race.

Region: Kane County | Email Tyler


Robert GrigsbyRobert Grigsby has taught high school social studies at Rich East High School in Park Forest, IL for nine years. During that tenure he has taught courses in Advanced Placement Psychology, American Government, U.S. History, World History, Sociology, Current Issues, and RtI Reading. In addition, he led the charge to offer and implement an AP US Government & Politics course in his district.

Robert earned his B.A. in History from Eastern Illinois University. In 2014, he completed an M.A. in Communication and Training at Governors State University. Robert is currently matriculating through an M.A. in Political Science at Northern Illinois University and studied the Constitutional Underpinnings of the United States at Georgetown University. Robert lives in Lockport, IL with his wife Jennifer, their three sons, three dogs, and two cats.

Region: South Cook County ISC 4 | Email Robert


Justin Jacobek has been teaching for 12 years at Morton West H.S. in Berwyn, IL. He graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a B.A. in Social Science in 2005, and received his M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Saint Xavier University in 2008. Justin has taught American Government and a Legislative Simulation course at Morton. He currently teaches AP US History. In his 12 years at Morton, Justin has annually brought in registrars to register his seniors to vote, he started a Mock Trial Team, and also served as a faculty advisor for Morton’s Debate Team and Class Cabinet. Justin was also a member of the McCormick Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. Justin lives in Oak Forest, Illinois with his wife Nancy and two sons; Henry and Walter.

Region: South Cook County ISC 2 | Email Justin


Candace Fikis has 20 years of Social Studies teaching experience both at Sycamore High School and West Chicago High School. She has taught a wide variety of classes including an interdisciplinary American Studies course, Criminal Justice, Current Political Issues, Economics, AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, Geography, Government, and U.S. History. She is also the advisor for West Chicago High School’s Student Council, Personal Finance Challenge Team and Economics Challenge Team. She has been recognized as a Visa Practical Money Skills Educator and awarded the 3M Outstanding Economic Educator from Econ Illinois. She has presented at many education conferences including at the National Council for the Social Studies National Conference, The Illinois Council for the Social Studies State Conference, The Dupage Valley Social Studies Conference, and the Illinois Association of School Boards State Conference.

Region: Will County | Email Candace


Jim Vera is the Social Studies Department Chair at Oswego East High School in Oswego, Illinois. This will be his 10th year in that position. Vera also serves on the Advisory Board of the Democracy School Network, and has been committed to promoting the Civic mission in high school education for the past 25 years as a teacher. He is a member of the National Council for Social Studies and has participated in Close-Up Washington and the StreetLaw Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers.

Region: Grundy & Kendall Counties | Email Jim


Jennifer Burdette is currently a teacher at Spoon River Valley High School in London Mills, IL. She has taught for eight years in west central Illinois in the subject areas of American history, government, current events, geography and world history. She was a three year participant in the Teaching American History grant through the Macomb ROE.


Region: Hancock, Fulton, Schuyler & McDonough Counties | Email Jennifer


Nathan DoyleNathan Doyle is a teacher at Triopia JR/SR High School in Concord, IL. He teaches classes in US History, Social Studies, Civics and Government, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and History through Film.  He has a masters degree in 20th Century US History. 


Region: Adams, Brown, Cass, Morgan, Pike & Scott Counties | Email Nathan


Chris JohnsonChris Johnson currently teaches at ROWVA Jr/Sr high where he teaches courses in American History, World History, and AP American Government. He received his undergraduate degree from Knox College and his masters from Olivet Nazarene University and has spent his entire 12 year teaching career in the ROWVA school district. Every year of his career, he has been responsible for instruction of civics in the junior high, the high school, or in both school. Chris participated in the Macomb ROE Teaching American History Grant and is actively involved in student travel to Washington DC. He is also an avid supporter of integrating technology into the classroom and is currently the president of the local ICE chapter entICE and has presented at several state-wide events on how effectively use technology to bring primary sources into the social studies classroom.

Region: Henderson, Knox, Mercer & Warren Counties | Email Chris


Clinton MathewsonClinton Mathewson has taught U.S. Government & Civics, AP U.S. Government & Politics, Geography, World History, Economics, Consumer Economics, and Psychology over his 10 year career. A 2006 graduate of Illinois State University, Clint has received additional training from Clemson University for the Project Citizen Service Learning Project and Northwestern University for AP U.S. Government and Politics. He is a member of the National Council for Social Studies. He has also earned a Master's Degree from Eastern Illinois University in Educational Administration. Currently, he teaches at Farmington Central School District #265.

Region: Peoria County | Email Clinton


Brian KahnBrian B. Kahn is an associate professor in the Teacher Education Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. A former middle school social studies teachers for over twenty years, he teaches courses dealing with elementary and secondary social studies methods, middle school concepts and principles, as well as the secondary seminar for students completing the student teaching experience. This current year represents his seventeenth year working at the college/university level in the area of teacher preparation.

Region: Iroquois & Kankakee Counties | Email Brian


Phil ApplebeePhil Applebee has been the Social Studies Department Chair at Maroa-Forsyth High School since 2008, and has been teaching for a total of 18 years. Phil has taught US History at the high school and middle school levels, American Government/Civics, AP US History, World History, and World Geography. He currently splits his day between being the high school Athletic Director and his teaching duties. Phil is excited about the mentoring experience and is looking forward to spreading the mission of

Region: Macon & Piatt Counties | Email Phil


Scott Burgess of Danville High School in Danville, Illinois has been teaching the social sciences for 30 years. He currently teaches Government, AP United States Government, AP Micro and Macroeconomics. Scott has coaches several sports and served on various leadership committees throughout his tenure. He is a contributing author in the politics and leadership section of Teaching Lincoln: Legacies and Classroom Strategies. Mr. Burgess has earned his Illinois endorsement in gifted education. Scott received a B.A. in History from Eureka College and a M.S. in Education Administration from Eastern Illinois University.

Region: Champaign & Ford Counties | Email Scott


Alexander DePauwAlexander DePauw graduated from Illinois State University with a BS in history/social science ed. in the fall of 2008. I have been teaching history and government and coaching track at El Paso Gridley high school for the last 8 years. In the fall of 2015 I graduated from Aurora University with a Master's of Arts in Educational Technology. In 2017 I started the El Paso Gridley chapter of Rho Kappa, the social studies honors society. The group works hard to better the communities that feed in to EPG through civic engagement. I also run the travel group at EPG. Every two years we travel to different European destinations in order to immerse my students in other cultures. I do my best to integrate my love of history and civics with technology to be as beneficial to my students as possible.

Region: Mason, Tazewell & Woodford Counties | Email Alexander


Bradley Marcy is the History Department Chairperson for LeRoy High School in LeRoy, Illinois. Bradley is a combat veteran of the Iraq War where he served in 2003-2004 as a Military Policemen and a 2009 Graduate of Illinois State University. Bradley is a three-time presenter at the ISU, ROE17 and McLean County Museum of History’s History Educators Symposium and will be writing his Master’s Thesis on The History of Civic Education in America.

Region: DeWitt, Livingston, Logan & McClean Counties | Email Bradley


Jason PochynokJason Pochynok is currently a teacher at Lanphier High School in Springfield, IL. He has taught for eight years in central Illinois in the subject areas of American history, world history, AVID, and Intro to social studies. He has helped design social studies curriculum for the Springfield School District.


Region: Menard & Sangamon Counties | Email Jason


Mr. Christopher Busse, O'Fallon Township High School, O'Fallon, Illinois. Social Studies Department Chair. Education – University of Illinois (1991), Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (2000), McKendree University (2010). Recognition – Supreme Court Summer Institute (2002), Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award (2010), Constitutional Right Foundation Barbara O'Donnell Teacher of the Year (2011). Experience – Brown County High School, Mt. Sterling, Illinois; Normal Community High School, Normal, Illinois; Belleville West High School, Belleville, Illinois; O'Fallon Township High School, O'Fallon, Illinois. Courses taught – AP Political Science, AP Comparative Politics, American Government, Civics, Economics, Psychology, United States History, and The American Legal System.

Region: St. Clair County | Email Christopher


Mark Heffington has spent most of his 17-year teaching career in the English classroom until his recent move to the Social Studies department at Pittsfield High School. He graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1992 with a B.A. in English (Creative Writing/Literature) and a History minor and earned a B.S. in Education in 1996, also from SIUC. He currently teaches American History, World Geography, and Illinois History/Current Events, along with being the senior class sponsor. Heffington was selected as the Pike Press Teacher of the Year in 2012 from a pool of prospective teachers representing the four high schools in Pike County. He recently served on the Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative nominating committee tasked with finding suitable candidates for the IREC Board of Directors. His recent focus in the classroom has been on having students create realistic simulations and his plans moving forward are to work toward more rewarding service learning opportunities. He has recently participated in a Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago (CRFC) program and is enlisted in a three-year James Madison Legacy Project. 

Region: Calhoun, Greene, Jersey & Macoupin Counties | Email Mark


Jane Hicks, a graduate from Illinois State University, has been in education since 1994. For eighteen of those years, she has taught civics, history, and anthropology at Edwardsville High School. Prior to that Hicks taught English in Sapporo, Japan. While at Edwardsville, Hicks has served on numerous curriculum committees and has helped to design a semester-long course about government and democracy. She is pleased by the state of Illinois' new commitment to civics education.

Region: Madison County | Email Jane


Andrea Seipp, social studies teacher at Belleville East High School in Belleville, IL. Andrea has taught Civics and U.S. History at Belleville East for the past ten years and also served as the Head Girls Basketball Coach up until last season. Prior to teaching at Belleville East, Andrea also taught 7th grade social studies for five years at Breese District 12 in Breese, IL. At Belleville East, Andrea led the social studies department through the Democracy School application process in 2014 and now serves as the school's Democracy School Team Leader. Andrea also chairs the Faculty Scholarship Selection Committee, co-chairs the Renaissance program, represents the social studies department on the school's Climate Committee, and serves as a Senior Olympic Coach.

Region: Clinton, Jefferson, Marion & Washington Counties | Email Andrea


Austin AlexanderAustin Alexander is currently a teacher at Lawrenceville High School located in Lawrenceville, IL. I graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a B.A in History Education in 2013. I will be in my 5th year of teaching, all five at Lawrenceville. I currently teach World History, World Contemporary Issues (Current Events) and Civics. I also am active throughout the school as a club sponsor and am on several committees of the East Lawrence Education Association. I have enjoyed teaching the new Civics curriculum, especially the real world applications and simulations, and am eager to learn more and help others implement in their classroom.

Region: Clay, Crawford, Jasper, Lawrence & Richland Counties | Email Austin


Aubrey Hale, an alternative education instructor at Pathways in Mattoon, has taught American History, Civics, and Economics for the last five years. Aubrey has a social studies teacher certification with a designation in history from Eastern Illinois University. In her spare time, she enjoys helping out with Girls on the Run and planning community events with the outreach team at Charleston Community Church.

Region: Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Moultrie & Shelby Counties | Email Aubrey


Kevin McDonaldKevin McDonald, graduated from Blackburn College in Carlinville, IL with a B.A. in History Education in 1999.  He earned his M.S. in Educational Administration from Eastern Illinois University in 2012.  Kevin has been at Litchfield High School for 15 years.  He currently teaches AP American Government and Politics, AP US History, American Government/Civics, Economics, Geography, and World History II.  McDonald is currently a member of the design team implementing a school wide Senior Seminar program.  As a co-teacher for the pilot seminar course, he works to prepare students for life after high school.  Kevin is also a member of the team implementing the 1:1 Initiative at Litchfield High School.  He has held workshops to share his knowledge and expertise on the Initiative with administrators and educators from other districts.  His involvement on the design teams for Senior Seminar and the 1:1 Initiative, as well as his participation in Civics Mentoring program are examples of his commitment to relevant, authentic, real world learning experiences for his students.

Region: Bond, Christian, Effingham, Fayette & Montgomery Counties | Email Kevin


Kristin Shanks, a social studies teacher and dean at Danville High School, has taught government or civics education for the entirety of her eight year career. Kristin has a social studies teacher certification with a specific designation in political science. She has worked extensively within her district on curriculum and planning in government/civics education.

Region: Vermillion County | Email Kristin


Daron Absher has been an AP Government and Politics teacher at Carbondale Community High School since 2001. While at CCHS, Absher has organized and sponsored the AP Government Washington D.C. Internship Program which matches students with government agencies for a one-week internship each March. He has served on the CCHS Democracy School Committee, sponsored the CCHS Model United Nations club, CCHS Student Council, and was  Dual Credit Political Science Instructor through John A. Logan Community College. He has also served as the President of the Carbondale Community High School Education Association, and was chair of the CCHS Social Studies Department.

Region: Alexander, Jackson, Pulaski, Perry & Union Counties | Email Daron


Rick Gaebe has been a social studies/English teacher at Okawville Jr. Sr. High School for the past 27 years. He graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a B.A. in English/Education. He earned his M.A. in English composition from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Rick has coached baseball at both the jr. high and high school levels all 27 years. He enjoys teaching civics and encouraging kids to take an active role in politics and most of all, their community organizations and churches. Rick and his wife, Mary Beth, reside in Okawville and have one son, Carl, who is a graduate of St. Louis Christian College.

Region: Franklin, Johnson, Massac & Williamson Counties | Email Rick


Heather Johnson is the History Department chair for Gibault Catholic High School. In addition to teaching Honors Civics and History for the past nine years, she helped implement the school’s 1:1 program. Johnson is also the Technology Instructional Specialist for Gibault, a new position created after completing her Master’s Degree in Education from Lindenwood University. In this position, Johnson provides technology training, leadership, and support to teachers to enhance instructional practices.

Region: Monroe & Randolph Counties | Email Heather


Donnie LyonsDonnie Lyons is currently a teacher at Fairfield Community High School in Fairfield, IL. He has taught for four years in the areas of Government, History, Geography, and Psychology. He is a member of the National Council for the Social Studies and has attended several SDE conferences. He has been involved in several committees, including the curriculum committee, and has had many coaching assignments during that time. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Southern Indiana and his Master's Degree from Oakland City University. 

Region: Edwards, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Pope, Saline, Wabash, Wayne & White Counties | Email Donnie