About the Institute
BOSTON, June 7, 2021—The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate today opened reservations for K-12 and college groups to enjoy civics, history, and social studies educational programs live and in person. Starting September 28, groups can once again visit the Kennedy Institute’s Boston facility that features a full-scale replica of the Senate chamber and award-winning facilitated programming.
The Kennedy Institute will also continue to offer teachers nationwide online versions of its educational offerings, which were developed over the past year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic precautions that required the organization to close its facility to visitors. For the fall semester, both in-person and virtual programs will be offered four days a week, with Friday classes now added to the existing Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday schedule.
“We are overjoyed to open our doors and welcome students and educators back into our building this September,” said Caroline Angel Burke, Vice President of Education, Visitor Experience, and Collections at the Kennedy Institute. “The importance of civics education has risen to a national conversation over the past years, and much of our work at the Kennedy Institute is focused on bringing civics-based programming to life to make it engaging and relevant to students. The ability to resume in-person programs and tours while continuing our virtual offerings enables us to deliver best in class civics education to students and educators locally and across the nation.”
Both the Kennedy Institute’s in-person and online classes feature highly trained, non-partisan instructors presenting both Democratic and Republican viewpoints on issues such as voting rights, the Green New Deal, and the Electoral College. Both in-person and virtual programs have been designed to meet the varying needs of students from kindergarten through college.
Teachers from across New England and the nation have praised the Kennedy Institute for its informative and engaging educational offerings.
“The Kennedy Institute’s ‘Pathways to Environmental Justice’ program was the best virtual experience my students and I have experienced since remote learning began in March 2020,’’ said Kelly Feurt, a fifth-grade teacher at Bentley Academy Innovation School in Salem, Mass. “Our presenters created a professional [learning environment], referring to our students as ‘Senator Sanchez’ and ‘Senator Castillo,’ and treating them like colleagues debating ideas, rather than children. The fifth grade rose to the occasion and dazzled all of us with the level of discourse they engaged in. I would like to recommend this program to any fifth-grade class, and I will be looking for more opportunities for these exceptional educators with my own students, as well.’’
Among the Kennedy Institute’s educational offerings:
• “Welcoming Words” program introduces K-3 students to the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of welcome for new immigrants. Students listen to a story about Lady Liberty, think about what it means to welcome others, and work on a creative activity together with a Kennedy Institute staff member.
• For grades 4-8, the Kennedy Institute’s “Pathways” programs teach students about modern-day issues such as citizenship and environmental justice. Students work together as if they were Senators to build a bill that effectively balances the needs of various groups impacted by the issue.
• Through the Kennedy Institute’s “Today’s Vote,” students can also participate in a simulated U.S. Senate session and a live floor debate on an actual piece of legislation pending before the Senate. Students consider the issue from multiple perspectives, share their own ideas, and cast their votes. With topics on Voting Rights, the Green New Deal, and the Electoral College, “Today’s Vote” is also available virtually via videoconference.
A complete list of the Kennedy Institute’s live, interactive virtual classroom opportunities can be found here. Teachers can submit requests to participate in Kennedy Institute-led classes at https://www.emkinstitute.org/resources/visit-request-form.
The Kennedy Institute will ensure compliance with any and all COVID-19 safety measures mandated by the federal government and Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the time of your visit. The facility can welcome groups of up to 60 students for in-person programs. For in-person field trips, program staff recommend planning for a 2-hour visit.
Since opening its doors in 2015, the Kennedy Institute has welcomed tens of thousands of school age children and young adults to its award-winning Columbia Point, Boston, facility to learn about the history and workings of the Senate and discuss, debate, and vote on major current issues as “Senators for a day.”
Through support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a donation from The James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation, participation in online and in-person classes is free for students from Massachusetts public schools, with a small fee charged for students from private and out-of-state schools and colleges. Need-based scholarships are available.
About the Edward M. Kennedy Institute The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities. Learn more via www.emkinstitute.org.
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