Civics Education Resource Site

Service Learning Regional Facilitators has been at the forefront of supporting the implementation of the 6-8 and 9-12 civics course requirements and social science standards. Embedded in these endeavors are the proven practices of civic education including service learning through informed action. recruited 28 educators representing all of Illinois’ geographic regions to participate in the Guardians of Democracy Microcredential Program with Volunteer Generation Fund support from Serve Illinois. These educators will facilitate service learning opportunities for classrooms in their region and provide opportunities for students from various regions and demographic groups to work together for the common good of Illinois.

For more information about this program or the Guardians of Democracy Microcredential Program, please contact Mary Ellen Daneels at


Contact a Facilitator

Jason M. Artman is the Social Studies Department Chairperson at Mendota High School, where he teaches U.S. History, U.S. History Honors, and Civics. He has been an Illinois Civics Mentor and Instructional Coach for the last five years. He was co-author and co-facilitator of two OnlineImpact civics workshops and finished the DePaul/Barat Foundation micro-credential course series on teaching with primary sources, civics, and student inquiry. In addition to sharing civics resources and strategies, he enjoys presenting workshops on practical ways to use reading and writing to teach civics and U.S. History.

Jason lives in Mendota with his wife, Tori, and daughter Piper, a senior at MHS who will study marine biology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater next fall. His older daughter, Mia, is a sophomore music major at UW-Whitewater.

  Email Jason |   @JasonMArtman1


Dana Berning grew up in DuPage County and attended Glenbard North High School (go Panthers!). She had amazing history teachers at North, which led to her love of the field. Dana then advanced her education at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and National Lewis University. For the past 19 years she has taught social studies at Glenn Westlake Middle School. Dana is a wife and mother of four beautiful children. Her family resides on the Fox River in McHenry, Illinois where they have a working farm. Dana and her husband teach their children that hard work, honesty, and dedication pay off on a daily basis.

  Email Dana




Dr. John Bierbaum  is in his 16th year as a Social Studies teacher at Normal Community West High School. He currently teaches Psychology and Civics with experience in both Advanced Placement and Dual Credit courses. John graduated from I.S.U. in ‘09 (M.A. in History) and ‘18 (Doctorate in Teaching and Learning). Having done so, he freed up more time to devote to the school’s Mock Trial team, Not In Our School Club, and the Illinois Global Scholar Program as well as outdoor activities with his two kids, wife Jenni, and Bernadoodle Jeb. For many years, John has organized an annual Veterans Day dinner, Wall of Fame, Social Studies Career Fair, and Student Archive Project at our school. John has a deep commitment to civic education, student engagement, and service learning to which he is excited and proud to be involved in the Democracy School Network!

  Email John |   @Bierbauj


Alia T. Bluemlein is a high school social science teacher at Prairie Ridge High School. She currently teaches U.S. History and AP Government, and has also taught World Studies and Law in American Society. Previously, Alia spent four years teaching Language Arts and Social Studies in middle school. Outside of teaching, she volunteers with a local organization providing literacy support in McHenry County and abroad, specifically in Zambia. Academically, Alia is pursuing a certificate in order to be able to teach dual credit U.S. History. Alia is passionate about social science classes and their ability to prepare students to be active and discerning citizens--the tools educators are able to provide them and give them opportunities to hone will set them up for success in whatever path they choose.

  Email Alia |   @MrsBluemlein



Jennifer Burdette teaches at Spoon River Valley High School in London Mills, IL. Her school is located in West Central IL and has around 100 students. Although it is a small school and staff, Jen loves networking with other teachers and hearing what they are doing in their classrooms. She teaches Current Events, Geography, American History, and Civics. Jen became involved with Illinois Civics when she served as a high school mentor for three years, and just can't get enough of this fantastic group! Besides her involvement as a mentor, Jen also has been a participant in the Guardians of Democracy program.

  Email Jennifer |   @Burdettehistory


Candace Fikis attended the University of Illinois for her undergraduate degree and received a master's degree in Education Administration from Aurora University. She has taught for 24 years in a wide variety of classes including an interdisciplinary American Studies course, Criminal Justice, Current Political Issues, Economics, AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, Government, and U.S. History at West Chicago Community High School. She has served as a Student Council Advisor and coach of the school’s nationally-ranked Economics and Personal Finance Challenge Teams. She has been recognized as a Visa Practical Money Skills Educator and 3M Outstanding Economic Educator from Econ Illinois. She has served as a Civic Mentor teacher for the state and presented at many local, state, and national conferences.

In her free time she loves to travel with her family and cheer on her daughters at their numerous sporting events.

  Email Candace |   @CandaceFikis | Featured Blog Post


Tracy Freeman is a National Board Certified teacher in her 32nd year of teaching, all but five in a high school social studies classroom. She is currently teaching AP US Government, US History, which is standards-based, Civics, and currently short-term prepping Economics. Freeman is a department chair at Normal West High School. They are a Democracy School and civically engage students in school whenever possible. They host an annual Veteran’s day dinner, career fair, and many other student-initiated projects. The introduction of service learning as a requirement in civics and AP has led to countless student projects. She also brought students to programs by Mikva Challenge, Constitutional Rights Foundation, and meetings with state and local officials.

  Email Tracy |   @freemantracy84



Mike Goin is a US history teacher in Chatham, IL. He is fortunate to teach a great group of sixth-graders both in person and virtually. In sixth grade, they cover the founding of America through Reconstruction. Mike was lucky enough to teach ELA for many years before moving into the world of history. He is able to bring the core objectives of ELA (Including persuasion, critical thinking, and investigation) to an inquiry focused history class. They expose students to a variety of source types and varying levels of complexity and reliability, and the overarching goal is to create a generation of students who recognize reliable information in everyday decision making. Everything they do is aligned to standards and the classroom motto: We have changed the world today just by being here--It is up to us to decide if it is a positive or negative change.

  Email Mike


Annette Hanson is currently an Instructional Facilitator at Glenn Westlake Middle School in Lombard. She has been in this position for three years supporting staff with the development of their curriculum and instruction in all content areas. Previously, Annette taught 7th & 8th grade ELA in Plainfield and Burr Ridge for 12 years. Collaboration has always been a passion of Annette’s as well as working to make meaningful connections across all content areas. She believes that collaboration & connections are at the heart of meaningful teaching & learning experiences.

  Email Annette |   @hansonteaches




Chris Johnson is entering his 15th year teaching at ROWVA Jr/Sr High School in Oneida, IL, where he teaches a range of classes including AP Government and Politics, AP European History, high school civics, and 7th grade world history.

Teaching history and government is a real passion for Johnson, who looks for creative ways to combine teaching topics in social studies with modern technology tools. He is an active member of ISTE and their state affiliate IDEA and draws inspiration from these outstanding groups of educators to find new ways to empower students to become active and engaged members of the global world they live in. He looks forward to working with educators across the state to develop effective civic education for our junior high students!

  Email Chris |   @c_johnson007


Tricia Kelliher is currently an English Learner Instructional Facilitator at Glenn Westlake Middle School in Lombard, IL. She has a strong background in differentiation and the varied needs of language learners. Prior to becoming an instructional facilitator, Tricia was a EL Instructional coach as well as an EL teacher. She works primarily with middle school students and their teachers to provide instructional support within the classroom. This past year, Tricia has become keenly aware of the needs of remote teaching and have been able to support teachers and students in this environment as well. Tricia takes pride in staying informed on new instructional models and supports for all learners, but especially language learners.

  Email Tricia | Featured Blog Post



Dr. Bonnie Laughlin-SchultzBonnie Laughlin-Schultz taught high school in the St. Louis area prior to earning a Ph.D. in history. She was a James Madison Fellow, Class of 1999, and graduated from Knox College with a BA in history and secondary education. She is the social science teaching coordinator and an associate professor of history at Eastern Illinois University, where she teaches social studies methods courses as well as the U.S. history survey, women’s history, research methods, and writing, and courses in the online MA for teachers. Laughlin-Schultz organizes an annual fall conference for IL social studies educators and writes about the teaching of history and civics in addition to research and writing focused on 19th century America, the broad Civil War era and its memory, and women's rights in US history.

  Email Bonnie |   @eiuhistl | Featured Blog Post


Barbara M. Lindauer is in her 28th year of teaching Social Studies at Collinsville High School. She is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and I did her master’s work in both Geography and Administration. Barbara is a Teach Plus Alumni and her school’s Democracy School Network Team Leader. Barbara has been very fortunate to have received several grants over the years that have allowed her to travel the world. Some of these travels include being a Fulbright-Hays Scholar to India and Sri Lanka, a team member in a Rotary Group Study Exchange to Japan and an International Education Consortium Fellow to China. Currently, she is the Collinsville High School Sponsor for the Model United Nations, the Multicultural Club, Amnesty International and the Class of 2024 Executive Board. When not teaching, Barbara enjoys gardening and hiking with her husband and two children.

  Email Barbara |   @BarbaraLindauer | Featured Blog Post


Brad Marcy is the History Department Chair at LeRoy High School where he teaches American History, Global Studies, and two Parkland College American History courses. He attended Illinois State University for his undergraduate and graduate degrees. Brad has been nominated as an IL Local History Teacher of the Year and as a Gilder Lehrman Institute State Teacher of the Year. Brad is an active leader in facilitating professional development and he co-founded and maintains a professional learning community of History-Social Studies teachers of Central IL. Brad served as an IL Civics Education Initiative Teacher Mentor for two years during which he assisted regional teachers with the implementation of the new IL Civic Education mandates. Brad has a passion for Service Learning and has a wealth of experience with implementing authentic service learning experiences for students.

  Email Brad |   @Mace627


Clara Mattheessen teaches American History, Illinois History, Contemporary World Issues, and Civics at A-C Central High School in Ashland, Illinois. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2016 and returned for her teacher certification finishing in 2019 after having the unique experience of student teaching at Pearson High School in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She has helped pilot Guardian of Democracy Courses in Current and Controversial Issues and Simulations of Democratic Processes. As an educator, Mattheessen works to encourage her students to explore civic opportunities and question the world around them.

  Email Clara |   @clmattheessen



Hannah Maze is a lifelong Southern Illinois resident who lives on a 15-acre farm and loves to spend time outside with her two dogs Harleigh the Husky and Daisy the Dachshund. She is a Green Bay Packer and Batman fanatic and her classroom is decorated in artwork that students have created to encourage her passion for the two. Hannah attended SIU-C to receive her Bachelors in Secondary Education. She is a Social Studies Teacher at Anna Jonesboro Community High School. Hannah teaches Government, Civics, U.S. History, and Geography. She has been a teacher for 11 years and enjoys bringing history to life in each class. Hannah was the student council advisor for the last five years but resigned from those duties to focus more on creating hands-on content for her classes. Hannah’s classes have created new school policies, worked alongside legislators in the region, conducted classroom debates, participated in Socratic Seminars, and mock trials.

  Email Hannah |   @J0k3R_MazeHa | Featured Blog Post


Colleen McDonnell has been teaching middle school social studies for six years. Her teaching career began in Central Illinois and later brought her to my current job at Glenn Westlake Middle School in Lombard, IL. Colleen is a graduate of the University of Illinois and loves everything orange and blue. ILL-! When she is not in the classroom, Colleen enjoys connecting with other educators to learn about social studies resources, remote learning, and books to add to her never-ending reading list. Outside of work, she loves exploring her Chicago neighborhood, making post-Covid travel plans, watching House Hunters, and trying out new recipes.

  Email Colleen |   @ms_mcdonnell | Featured Blog Post



Heather Monson  teaches at United Township High School in East Moline, IL. She teaches sophomore College Prep World History and a Critical Thinking Course for seniors titled Western Civilization where students earn one semester of dual credit history. It is a two hour course taught with an English teacher and includes philosophy, the great plays, Constitutional Law and British Lit. She has been excited to be working on a MA in Political Science to teach Dual Credit Political Science. Heather is particularly interested in teaching the Constitution and Constitutional issues. She has a great love for world history and especially the French Revolution and World Religions. This year Heather is teaching a Latin American History class that has been a challenge.

  Email Heather |   @mrsmhistory



Logan Ridenour currently teaches at Dupo Jr/Sr High School in Dupo, IL. The courses that he teaches are U.S. Government and Civics, World Geography, U.S. History, and Sociology. Logan has been teaching for roughly 13 years and enjoys the process very much. Logan is part of the iCivics Educator Network along with being a civics instructional coach for Illinois Civics.

  Email Logan |   @loganridenour3 | Featured Blog Post





Adrienne Rufo is the 6th-grade Local Civics teacher at Leman Middle School in West Chicago. She has been lucky to be given the freedom to create a class where her 6th graders can begin to develop an idea of what it means to be civically engaged. Adrienne was previously an ELA teacher before given the opportunity to utilize her Social Studies background in the world of civics. She loves connecting current and historical events to her class in order to engage students in discussion and help them form a deeper understanding of the role they play in their community. Adrienne also co-sponsors the service-learning club at LMS that is entering its second year. When she is not working, Adrienne is an avid reader and dog enthusiast.

  Email Adrienne |   @miss_rufo



Gwynne Ryan teaches Social Science at Maine West High School in Des Plaines, IL. She has worked to incorporate student voices and civic engagement during her 23 years of teaching. In that time, she has worked with a wide variety of organizations that help students develop skills to discuss controversial issues, actively engage in the political process and share lived experiences through courageous conversations. Her work with students has inspired her to personally run for political office (and lose), work to change state laws, and be involved in local civic action in her community.

  Email Gwynne |   @_mrs_ryan



Aaron J. Sester is currently employed by Mendota Township High School in Illinois. He grew up and graduated from Mendota in 2003 and returned to teach Social Studies in the fall of 2011. Aaron’s current sections include US History, Consumer Economics, Sociology, and World Geography. This is his 13th year in the educational field. For various educational reasons, he has attended Aurora University, Illinois Valley Community College (A.S), Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (B.S.), Northern Illinois University (Driver's Ed Endorsed), Western Illinois University (M.S.), and Augustana University. Aaron coached football for nine years before his two daughters were born. Aaron stepped down to spend more time with his young family. Aaron has also coached baseball for the past 13 years and is currently the head varsity baseball coach. Aaron has been the yearbook advisor for the past 6 years for our Atodnem club.

  Email Aaron


Rebecca Walters teaches social studies at Oswego East High School. She currently teaches World Cultures, Modern World History, and AP US History. Rebecca has been teaching social studies for the past 18 years. Rebecca has a Master’s degree in US History from Roosevelt University with an interest in immigration, urbanization, and industrialization. When OEHS went through the process of becoming a designated Democracy School, Rebecca became more aware of the importance of civic learning for students. She enjoys seeing the excitement that students share when they realize that they can make a difference in their communities. She loves seeing students become politically active and excited when they see the outcome of their hard work.

  Email Rebecca |   @Rebecca82750117



Matt Wdowiarz teaches 5th grade at Winfield Central School. He has been a public educator for fifteen years. Matt is currently pursuing my doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Social Studies, Science, and Environmental Education at N.I.U. He enjoys hanging out with his wife and kids and playing guitar in his free time.

  Email Matt |   @mrwdowiarz





Matt Wood teaches 7th grade National Civics at Leman Middle School in West Chicago. His 14 years of teaching experience in the community also includes coaching track and sponsoring various clubs. This is his second year of also working with the McCormick Foundation and Illinois Civics as a middle school regional mentor teacher. Matt loves to read, spend time with family, and is passionate about American politics.

  Email Matt |   @Matt_LMS_Civics





Corie Yow is a graduate of Illinois State University and received her Master’s from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Yow is beginning her 18th year of teaching in the Ball-Chatham CUSD #5 located in Chatham, IL. During her tenure, she has taught middle school U.S. History, World History, English Language Arts, and was an Instructional Coach for the district.

Yow was one of the leaders of the task force who developed the Illinois State Social Science Standards. As the leader for the middle school level, she presented the standards to the Illinois State Board of Education for adoption. Since the adoption of the new standards, she has continued working with Illinois Social Science Stakeholders, provided professional development at the DuPage County Social Studies Conference and several ROEs, as well as consulted school districts across Illinois with the implementation process and curriculum alignment.

  Email Corie |   @YowCorie | Featured Blog Post