Dr. Wilfred McClay and Dr. Lucien Ellington received the 2013 Distinguished Teacher/Educator Award from the Chattanooga Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.
The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge is a non-profit education organization “dedicated to helping students, teachers and citizens gain a greater awareness and appreciation of the principles of a free and democratic society.” National volunteer chapters support “educational and awards programs to foster engaged citizenship, through the exploration of civics, US history, student entrepreneurship, youth leadership, and constitutional rights and responsibilities.”
McClay was recognized for his focus on Constitution Day, when 39 delegates signed the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. McClay, SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities and Professor of History since 1999, promotes this historic event nationally with the support of the Jack Miller Center, founded to address “mounting evidence that college graduates— the future leaders of our country—lacked the knowledge of America’s founding principles and history necessary to be informed and engaged citizens.”
Local Constitution Day events are promoted by both McClay and Ellington, editor of Education About Asia, director of the Asia Program at UTC. Ellington also conducts research and writes about K-12 school reform, specifically social studies. McClay and Ellington co-founded the Center for Reflective Citizenship, created to foster regional and national improvement of the quality of instruction provided to K-12 students in both public and private schools in matters relating to civic education.
“The Center for Reflective Citizenship takes as its philosophical starting place the belief, shared by the founders of the nation and the framers of the Constitution, that the health of the American republic requires the cultivation of a thoughtful, informed, virtuous, and engaged citizenry, knowledgeable about the sources of American freedom, mindful of the privileges and duties of citizenship, and properly respectful of America’s constitutional form of government,” McClay explained.
In 2011 and 2012, the Constitution Day lecture at UTC was sponsored by the Center for Reflective Citizenship.
In June 2013, the Center will conduct “Effective Citizenship and Economic Understanding,” a summer institute for teachers in the tri-state region.