School of Continuing Education Teacher Lauded by R.I. Secretary of State
Providence, R.I.--Michael Connolly, a lecturer in the Providence College School of Continuing Education’s (SCE) Teacher Certification Program, received the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Medallion Award from R.I. Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis for his leadership in Mollis’ 2010 “Voters in the Classroom Initiative.”
Connolly, the director of applied learning at Shea High School in Pawtucket, helped oversee the planning and holding of a statewide mock referendum to increase students’ interest in voting and becoming involved in government.
Mollis’ office won a $37,300 federal grant to fund the initiative, in which 14 public high schools participated.
Mollis worked with Connolly and Shea’s Government and Public Administration Academy, of which Connolly is a founder, the Board of Elections, the Department of Elementary and Special Education, and Roger Williams University (RWU) on the initiative.
Students chose issues to put on a mock statewide referendum ballot, established voting procedures through classroom discussions and assemblies, and staffed polling places at their schools, where they used real ballots and voting machines.
“I am grateful to Mike for his commitment to this important campaign,” Mollis said. “The dividends from this initiative will be felt for years to come as these students get involved in the life of their communities. Some of these students will become our next generation of leaders.”
The NASS Medallion Award, the highest award bestowed by a secretary of state, recognizes those who promote NASS goals in the areas of elections, civic education, and service to a secretary of state’s office.
”I want students to embrace the importance of voting and how it is their voice in the decision-making part of our democratic process,” Connolly said. He noted the importance of the expertise of colleagues at RWU, Shea and Tolman high schools, and the secretary of state’s office, who were part of the initiative.
Connolly, a former social studies teacher and department chairman at Shea, founded its Government and Public Administration Academy six years ago with RWU graduate programs faculty. Selected juniors take upper-level public administration and government course work, and, as seniors, augment classes with internships to translate their studies to a workplace.
Connolly has taught Principles of Secondary Education and the Student Teaching Seminar in PC’s Teacher Certification Program since 2004.