Notre Dame Prep students serve in youth-run legislature [Towson]

Towson Times
Notre Dame Prep students serve in youth-run simulated legislature

Two Notre Dame Preparatory High School students recently had an opportunity to serve in a youth-run simulated Maryland General Assembly, to engage with issues that impact our community. NDP Senior, Miya Dubler, and junior, Allison Ewers, participated in the Maryland Y Youth and Government Conference, in Annapolis, April 24 and 25. They joined 150 other students from across the state to debate bills written in legislative committees.

The bills included those centered on new programs for Maryland veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder; increased drunken-driving penalties; additional funding for mental health programs; and limits on standardized testing in Maryland schools. A repeal of the estate tax was vetoed, as was an increase in the gas tax. In the simulated legislature, Dubler (who joined in ninth grade) serves as secretary of state, while Ewers (who joined in tenth grade) will serve as the 2017 chief justice.

The Y in Central Maryland runs this youth government program, and there will be a new delegation starting at The Y in Towson next year. For more information about the program, email mdyandg@ymaryland.org or visit the website www.ymaryland.org/programs/beforeafterschoolenrichment/youthgovernment.

But wait — there's more good news to share from Notre Dame Preparatory High School! Congratulations to Social Studies teacher Michael Ellis, who has been selected for the Life Guard Teacher Fellows Program at George Washington's Mount Vernon. Ellis, who has been teaching for 11 years, has spent the past six years at NDP teaching U.S. History, including Advanced Placement classes to sophomores and juniors.

The Life Guard Teacher Fellows program helps classroom teachers and educators conduct short-term residential research on a variety of themes inspired by the life, leadership and legacy of George Washington. Through the research they conduct in-residence at the estate, fellowship recipients create and design curriculum materials, lesson plans, electronic media, and other educational materials. The program received applications from educators in 12 states, but only six applicants were chosen to participate in this residential fellowship. The program is housed at The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, which safeguards original Washington documents and serves as a center for scholarly research and leadership training.

"I will be working on this curriculum over the next year, beginning in July," Ellis notes. "I hope to bring back to NDP [and to teachers across the country, as this curriculum will be available to them as well] a more 'knowable' and instructive George Washington. The lessons he can teach us about humility, personal growth and leadership are timeless and immensely valuable."

According to Mary O'Hara, NDP Social Studies chairperson, Ellis' passion for learning serves him well. "His classroom is alive with debate, sharing of ideas and current events, and how these affect his students, our nation, and our world," O'Hara said. "Mike empowers his students to think critically about the world in which they live, so that they become intentional citizens of the future."

What a gift for those students to have a teacher who is so thoroughly inspired by and invested in his trade.

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