Making Democracy Work

Previous Winners - Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Awards

Chronological list of Merit Awards Winners

Previous Winning Recipients of Susan Wilson Merit Awards


At a June ceremony at the State House, the League recognized teachers who have demonstrated expertise in civics education. Melissa Long, Deputy Secretary of State, was the guest speaker.

2016-06-001 Ryan Cannole (Honorable Mention), Michael Miele (2nd place), and Heidi Vazquez (1st place)

8th Annual Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Ceremony 2014-2015

June 10, 2015 RI State House Guest Speaker: Judith Savage, Rhode Island Supreme Court Judge

-- Civic Education Honorees -- Grand Prize Louise Oliveira + West Greenwich Senior School and Mark Gardiner + Chariho High School Jury Prize Barbars Walton-Faria Thompson Middle School, Newport Honorable Mention Stacy Andreozzi and Heather Simmons Pleasant View Elementary School, Providence


Mark Gardner of Chariho High School with Pam Ancheta, Christine Davidson and Rosalie Harris.

Louise Oliveira of West Greenwich Senior School with Pam Ancheta and Christine Davidson.

7th Annual Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Ceremony 2013-2014

June 11, 2014 RI State House Guest Speaker: Deborah A. Gist, RI Commissioner of Education

-- Civic Education Honorees -- Grand Prize Kimberly Rawson North Smithfield High School Jury Prize James Gemma Edward Rhodes Elementary School, Cranston Honorable Mention Deborah Marcello and Gregory Quirk Portsmouth Middle School


Pam Ancheta, President South Kingstown/Narragansett LWV; Grand Prize winner Kimberly Rawson, Social Studies teacher at North Smithfield High School; and Christine Davidson, Chair of Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Committee.

Christine Davidson, Chair of Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Committee; Pam Ancheta, President South Kingstown/Narragansett LWV; and Honorable Mention Prize winners Deborah Marcello & Gregory Quirk, teachers at Portsmouth Middle School.

6th Annual Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Ceremony 2012-2013

June 5, 2013 RI State House The three judges for the award were: Representative Donna Walsh, Vincent Hawkins and Nancy Burns-Fusaro. Our guest Speaker was David V. Abbott, Deputy Commissioner of Education.

Soljane Quiles Highland Charter School Providence, RI First Place Winner

(L-R) Natalie O'Brien (No. Smithfield High School), 3rd Place; Soljane Quiles (Highland Charter School), 1st Place; Edward Inman (Western Hills Middle School), 2nd Place; LWV members Christine Davidson & Karen Asher

Winners of the 2012-2013 Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award First Place Teacher: Soljane Quiles + Highland Charter School, Providence, RI Ms. Quiles has successfully conveyed to her middle-level students the importance, and obligation, of civic involvement. Her experience in journalism prior to becoming a teacher, her advocacy for middle school involvement with Generation Citizen, and face-to-face classroom discussions with members of the judiciary and the bar have provided her students with a solid, civic platform upon which to build. Her energy and expertise created unique experiences for her students that will stay with them forever. Her work is truly outstanding.

Second Place Teacher: Edward Inman + Western Hills Middle School, Cranston, RI Mr. Inman used his many connections to involve judges and attorneys in the school's "Law Day." He worked with students to help them understand the role of the courts in society, explored civic topics including equality under the law, civil rights in the United States, freedom of press, freedom of speech, assembly and religion; plus he ran many mock elections that included the entire student population. He is a hard-working and experienced teacher.

Honorable Mention Teacher: Natalie O'Brien + North Smithfield High School, North Smithfield, RI Ms. O'Brien is an exceptional teacher who instills in her students the knowledge, passion and skills needed to be an informed, conscientious citizen in our modern society. For the past seven year her students have earned a trip to Washington DC for the We The People competition. What is most extraordinary is that her students were all 9th graders who did not have the benefit of United States history classes before competing, yet they are the defending RI State champions. Additionally Natalie introduced an advanced placement Government and Politics course that is one of the most popular electives in her school.

5th Annual Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Ceremony 2011-2012

June 6, 2012 RI State House The three judges for the award were: Michelle Little, Stephen R. White ESQ. and Sylvia Blanda. Our Guest Speaker was RI Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell.

Edward Kostka

Glen Simmons

Joseph Cassady

Derry Riding with Justice Suttell

Winners of the 2011-2012 Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award First Place Edward Kostka + Shea High School - Pawtucket Mr. Kostka is lead teacher of Shea High School's Government and Public Administration Academy. Kostka and his students have been involved in a number of civic and community projects including registering voters, providing voter education training statewide, training poll workers, and training disabled and handicapped individuals on using the Auto-Mark Machine. Michael Connolly, Coordinator of Applied Learning for the Pawtucket School Department says of Mr. Kostka, "He makes a difference in his community by changing the lives of his students."

Second Place Glen Simmons - Hampden Meadows School - Barrington Glen Simmons has been an elementary educator at Hampden Meadows School in Barrington for 19 years. Glen promotes civic education with his fifth grade students in myriad ways. Judge Michelle Little says of Mr. Simmons, "He has done much for his students and their learning, he is passionate about civic education, equal rights, and promoting our democracy. We honor him because the need for experiential education, service-learning, and activist civic education has never been greater."

Honorable Mention Joseph Cassady + Portsmouth High School For the past ten years, Joseph Cassady has taken his well-prepared students to Washington, DC with Project Close Up. He has met with students regularly after school to explore area such as the voting records of their representatives in Congress. Mr. Cassady is passionate about inspiring young people to grow in their understanding of what engaged and informed citizens can accomplish. Mr. Cassady says, "From an ideological side, I am paying forward the countless hours of work that were invested in me by my parents and teachers over the years. I was given the ability to see the important place in society that the citizen holds...I celebrate it. I have spent nights poring over the words of our Founding Fathers and looking for intent behind the literal accounts."

SEE VIDEO June 6, 2012

4th Annual Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Ceremony 2010-2011

June 14, 2011 RI State House Keynote Speaker: RI Education Commissioner Deborah Gist

Amanda Murphy

James Silva

Michael Kuriscak

Mark Manzo

Winners of the 2010-2011 Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Westerly High School teachers, Jay Fusco, Jeri Muccio, Amanda Murphy and Matt Nichols who received the Grand Prize of $800. They developed a new program call "Citizenship In A Democracy." This program designed especially for seniors gave students who were about to cross the threshold into full-fledged citizenship an intense immersion experience in being an active member of a democratic society. Their program was found by the judges to be multi-faceted, well designed and highly successful.

Rogers High School (Newport) teachers, Colleen Kiernan Hermes, Stephen Ferris, Marylou Butterfield, John Heino, Jim Silva and Mike Kuriscak who received the Jury Prize of $500. Their students studied the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and focused particularly on the letter that President Washington wrote to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport in which he confirmed his belief in tolerance and religious freedom. Students were required to write an essay on "How well has America upheld the principles of religious tolerance as expressed by Washington in his letter?" Our judges were impressed with the historical underpinnings of this program as well as the creativity involved.

E-Cubed Academy (Providence) teacher, Mark Manzo received Honorable mention, $200. Throughout his career Mr. Manzo has been involved in numerous programs that support Civic Education. Some of the notables are the use of "We the People" program in his classroom, the creation of a student government, and the development of thematic units that promote the importance of what it means to be an American. Mr. Manzo is a teacher who believes in getting his students to become better citizens and participate in the political process.

SEE VIDEO June 14, 2011 READ AGENDA June 14, 2011 READ PRESS RELEASE June 1, 2011

3rd Annual Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Ceremony 2009-2010

Winners of the 2009-2010 Wilson Award Winners of the 2009-2010 Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Deborah Marcello & Greg Quirk of Portsmouth Middle School and Susan Burt Squillante of Feinstein Middle School in Coventry were the 2009-2010 Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award winners.

Deborah Marcello & Greg Quirk won 1st prize for their US Election Process Unit, developed by Ms. Marcello, which gives students an opportunity to learn how the election process works by directly participating in an election, both as a candidate and poll worker. The students join a political party and prepare a campaign for themselves as a presidential candidate for the 8th grade class. Primary elections in both parties yield candidates, who make commercials and give speeches in front of the entire class. A general election is held and students elect a class president.

Susan Burt Squillante won 2nd prize for her work as a trainer of other teachers in such programs as Project Citizen, the School Violence Prevention Demonstration Program and the national Serve & Learn network.

SEE VIDEO June 9, 2010 READ AGENDA June 9, 2010 READ PRESS RELEASE June 9, 2010

2nd Annual Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Ceremony 2008-2009

Winners of the 2008-2009 Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award

1st Place Award Lawrence Verria of North Kingstown High School for helping students organize election year candidate forums.

2nd Place Award Colleen Chappell of Curtis Corner Middle School, South Kingstown for innovative ways to teach the constitution.

3rd Place Award Michael Calenda and Jonathan Rollins of Ponaganset Middle School, Glocester for their participation in Mock Trial and National Law Day, the National Current Events League and especially the Wreaths Across America Program.

The 2009 Wilson Civic Education Awards Ceremony is a finalist for the John Notte III Award for Best RI PEG Access Program of the year. The awards ceremony at Hasbro, Inc., in Providence will be held Friday, Nov. 13, 2009

SEE VIDEO June 9, 2009 READ PRESS RELEASE June 9, 2009

1st Annual Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award Ceremony 2007-2008

Pam Ancheta, President of League of Women Voters South County poses with winners David Avedisian, Henry Marciano and Jim Buxton.

Teachers from N. Kingstown, S. Kingstown & Providence honored at Civic Education Merit Award Reception at the State House On Monday, June 9, 2008 @ 4:00pm, in the Governor's Reception Room at the Rhode Island State House, David Avedisian, a North Kingstown High School history/current issues teacher; Jim Buxton, a South Kingstown High School social studies teacher; and Henry Marciano, Social Studies Department Head at Esek Hopkins Middle School were recognized for their work in civic education as recipients of the inaugural Susan B. Wilson Civic Education Merit Award for 2007-08. Mr. Avedisian received the Grand Prize , Mr. Buxton received the Jury Prize, and Mr. Marciano received an Honorable Mention Award. The Grand Prize and Jury Prize included a cash award of $800 and $500, respectively. READ PRESS RELEASE June 6, 2008