Kirstin Sullivan, who teaches AP European History, AP Government and Politics, and U.S. Government at Ames High School, was recognized by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate for organizing Ames High School’s participation in the statewide Iowa Youth Straw Poll for the 2016 general election.
In a press release, Pate said Sullivan “stepped up and registered to include our students’ voices in the statewide straw poll, and as a result of her efforts, students received a unique civic education experience.”
Sullivan said participating in the Iowa Youth Straw Poll gave all students at Ames High School a chance to be engaged.
“A vital part of my job is for students to know how important it is that they are engaged in their community and in their government at all levels,” Sullivan said. “In both U.S. Government and AP Government and Politics classes, we spend the semester learning about civil liberties and how to best advocate for oneself and one’s community.”
Sullivan said some high school seniors were able to participate in the actual election, as they were 18 years old by election day, but the majority of students could not.
“This was a way for them to be a part of the country’s conversation and to see how their voices aligned with students across Iowa,” she said.
Sullivan’s message to her students on their last day with her is to “be present, be engaged, and to vote.”
“My hope is that activities like the Youth Straw Poll help support that message,” she said.
The leadership of Iowa teachers like Sullivan earned the Iowa Youth Straw Poll national recognition, Pate said. The National Parent Student Mock Election awarded the Iowa Youth Straw Poll its National Association of State Boards of Education Award for Outstanding Leadership in Voter Education.