Several Virginia teachers from southwestern Virginia participated in a civics workshop at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise on June 6. The workshop was sponsored and conducted by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing the public with information on a variety of issues.
Ali Mislowsky, VaNews coordinator for VPAP, said one goal of the workshop was to introduce the teachers to the tools that are available at the organization’s VPAP.org website. The workshop, the first in far Southwest Virginia, was designed to give teachers more tools to bring to their civics classes in public schools across the region and the commonwealth.
“The Virginia Public Access Project is doing a major public service for the Commonwealth of Virginia, its teachers, and students by hosting this civics workshop,” Chancellor Donna P. Henry said. “This workshop will equip Virginia educators with the tools and resources necessary to engage and empower our young people in the political realm. The objective of this program falls squarely in line with the College’s mission to prepare students and graduates to think critically, act purposefully and contribute productively to society. I am pleased VPAP has chosen to host this program here at UVa-Wise and in Southwest Virginia to broaden access to teachers in our region.”
David Poole, executive director of VPAP, and Mislowsky gave the teachers a tour of the organization’s online resources for civics lesson plans. The teachers, many from as far away as Galax, shared their own classroom experiences and ideas on ways to incorporate the VPAP resources into their own lesson plans.
Dennis Workman, a government, U.S. history and psychology teacher at William Fleming High, traveled from Roanoke to attend the workshop.
“It has helped me find the online resources to use to better explain civics to my students,” Workman said. “VPAP has done a lot of leg work for me.”
Marvin Gilliam, the University of Virginia Board of Visitor representative on the UVa-Wise College Board, praised VPAP for its mission to educate the public on civic and government issues.
“I am delighted that VPAP has chosen UVa-Wise as the first workshop of their new program to inform high school civics teachers across the state of all the tools VPAP offers the citizens of Virginia,” Gilliam said. “VPAP has evolved from a raw database of political contributions to a website with extensive and sophisticated analytic tools. These tools can help civics teachers educate our high school students about the interaction of the political and governmental processes in the state.”
The nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project connects Virginians to nonpartisan information about Virginia politics in easily understood ways.
VPAP was founded in 1997 on one simple premise: Because Virginia’s ethics laws rely on disclosure, it is imperative that citizens have easy access to public documents related to money in politics.
VPAP is fiercely nonpartisan. It has no dog in any political fight. Its singular focus is to give Virginians the information they need to make informed decisions.
VPAP’s approach is grounded in facts taken directly from public documents such as campaign finance reports, election returns, conflicts disclosures and lobbyist registrations. VPAP breaks down the silos of government data and weaves in other information such as newspaper articles.
This integrated approach provides the public with unique and valuable insights on politicians and issues that impact their families and communities.
VPAP’s excellence and nonpartisan approach have won awards from numerous organizations, including the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, the Wilder School of Public Policy at VCU and the Society of Professional Journalists.