Bay Haven civics teacher approaches politics differently in the classroom

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BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — Bay Haven Charter Academy students have their teacher to thank when it comes to the way they will approach politics.

After more than a year of campaigning, Democratic nominee Joe Biden will face off against President Donald Trump for the first time in the first three debates televised debates.

Both candidates will discuss important topics our country will face in the next four years, and a middle school civics teacher has been educating her students on those topics so far.

Students in Eve Van Kley’s middle school civics class are actively learning about both political parties, and her approach is different than years past.

“They are going to be gathering data on the different candidates, and then they are going to disseminate that information via Instagram and educate,” Van Kley said.

Van Kley said it is key for students to know about all platforms.

“We’ve been learning about military spending and ways to improve that,” said seventh-grade student Kiera Wallace.

But that is not all students learned. 

 “Both candidates favor one thing over the other, like, for example, taxes, racial injustice,” said another seventh-grade student Josh Nguyen.

Josh and Keira are taking what they learned in their class and applying it to Republican and Democrat views during the debate Tuesday.

“What each candidate has to say about immigration and government spending,” said Josh.

Whereas, Keira will be using classroom knowledge as well as an added trick.

“My dad taught me how people are lying or not,” said Keira. “Usually, they look down or to the side, so I will be looking to see if the president or the vice president does that.”

Van Kley encourages her students to reinforce beliefs with primary sources and to do so without added emotion.

Most of Van Kley’s Students said they would be tuning in to the presidential debate to understand what the candidates are saying, and how that aligns within their civics class thus far.

Although Van Kley will be doing more than watching the first presidential debate, she is being honored for her way of teaching middle school students about the current political climate.

Van Kley is sitting on a panel for the National Council of Social Studies Tuesday night, to help educate other teachers about politics during this specific election.

By altering how she approaches politics each year, Van Kley said it would ultimately influence students long term. So far this year, she said her students attended class with more knowledge than through past voting years.

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