On June 21, the David Mathews Center for Civic Life hosted the third annual workshop of the Innovators in Civic Education Fellows. Teacher Fellows assist the DMC in educational programming by providing valuable insight on how to create the most relevant and useful resources for educators, both in the classroom and the community.

Five educators from around the state gathered to receive moderator training, share their perspectives, and obtain deliberative learning resources. Learn more about our 2021-22 Teacher Fellows below:


Amber Broadhead
4th grade Social Studies, Edgewood Elementary School, Homewood City Schools 

Amber Broadhead has been in education for eleven years. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Montevallo, and her M.A. from the University of West Alabama. As a 4th grade teacher, she has enjoyed teaching her students about Alabama history. Since 2019, Amber has served as a Master Teacher for the Alabama History Institutes, a professional development workshop series of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. She believes as an educator, she has the opportunity to help students build confidence in themselves and understand who they are for not only the remainder of their education journey, but well into their adult lives. Amber lives with her husband and three daughters in Calera.

What does civic education mean to you?
One of the fourth grade standards is “finding your voice,” which goes along with deliberative learning. Asking eight-year-old students to not only give a presentation but share their opinions and explain their understanding is essential. It is crucial for students to find out who they are early on to lay the foundation for going forward to middle and high school.

Amber Colón
9th-12th grade English Language Arts, Vincent Middle High School, Shelby County Schools

Amber Colón has been a dedicated, longtime resident of Alabama and contributor to her community. After graduating from undergrad at Tuskegee University, she served a variety of roles in public service, including traveling to Tanzania where she assisted as an interpreter for Rwandan Genocide victim depositions for court Judges at the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Upon completion of her M.A. in Literary Studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Amber has worked as an administrator, grant writer, and educator. Amber is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Education at the University of Alabama, with a concentration in Social and Cultural Studies. She currently serves as a 9th and 10th Grade English Instructor at Vincent Middle High School in Shelby County. She lives in Hoover with her husband John, sons Mateo and Christopher, and their dog Jager.

What does civic education mean to you?
Context is necessary when teaching literature. I believe civic engagement goes hand in hand with all subjects because it encourages students to find their voice and apply it to all aspects of their education.

Laura Lemley
5th grade, English Language Arts and Social Studies, Harvest Elementary, Madison County Schools

A graduate of Athens State University, Laura Lemley is entering her twelfth year of teaching. A 5th grade teacher at Harvest Elementary, she has always enjoyed teaching history and civics and actively incorporates them into every lesson that she can. Laura believes in the importance of teaching students about their history to guide them towards the future. Place-based deliberative learning has positively impacted her teaching style, and she looks forward to learning more as a DMC Teacher Fellow. Laura is a proud mother of three children and lives in the Huntsville area.

What does civic education mean to you?
When I discuss civics with other Elementary teachers, they are unfamiliar with how to incorporate it into their curriculums. However, all students need to be able to develop creative thinking skills. By using deliberative discussions, students learn the difference between deliberation and debate and that there are no winners or losers.

Blake Ramsey
7th grade Social Studies, East Samford School, Auburn City Schools 

An Auburn native, Blake Ramsey teaches 7th Grade Social Studies at East Samford School. He has served as an educator for nine years. In addition to being a classroom teacher, Blake works with students as a coach in Baseball and Football for Auburn City. Blake graduated from Auburn University with a B.A. in Social Science Education, and recently earned his Master’s degree in European History from Troy University. 

What does civic education mean to you?
As a civics teacher, deliberation is crucial for content. I often implement deliberation in the classroom, and the students become engaged and enjoy sharing their perspectives. They are able to work together and learn without even realizing it.


Jessica Woods
3rd grade Mathematics, Tuggle Elementary, Birmingham City Schools

Jessica Woods has served her hometown of Birmingham her entire life. A two-time graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Jessica has worked as a classroom educator for the past five years. In 2020, she received UAB’s Outstanding Alumni of the School of Education Award, and has obtained a variety of grants to enhance and further programming in her classroom. She currently teaches 3rd grade at Tuggle Elementary.

What does civic education mean to you?
I teach primarily minority students, and I believe it is very important to help them find their voices. When they feel like they aren’t able to be heard in the world, I want to empower them to share and speak their minds freely.

DMC Education Director Gabrielle Lamplugh conducted a deliberative discussion with the Teacher Fellows using the
Votes for Women historic issue guide. Deputy Director for the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office Division of Youth Services David Dada spoke on his experiences as both a JOIP faculty mentor at UAB and a 2020-21 DMC teacher fellow. David recounted how his partnerships through both these educational programs made a lasting impact on both his students, community, and career as a community educator. DMC Executive Director Cristin Brawner concluded the workshop by providing an overview of DMC programming and the pivotal role the Teacher Fellows will fulfill over this next year. 

We appreciate our Teacher Fellows for participating in this year’s workshop and look forward to a full year of engaging and growing our educational programming collaboratively!