Each year, Civic Nebraska’s Strengthening Democracy Awards recognize Nebraskans whose work embodies the spirit of a more modern and robust democracy. Among our 2022 honorees are educators, administrators, students, and everyday Nebraskans. We’ll officially honor the winners on June 9, but before then, here’s a chance to learn a bit more about what makes them special.
Civic Nebraska honors Ebony McKiver with the 2022 Champion of Learning Award for promoting quality civic education across Nebraska. As the Nebraska Department of Education’s social studies specialist, Ebony is an important voice of support for educators and districts amid changes to Nebraska’s social studies standards.
“As a self-proclaimed civic and history nerd, Ebony has traveled the state sharing the importance of a strong social studies education grounded in fact and history. She’s supported educators in having difficult conversations with students about the past,” said Lane Carr of the Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives at the Nebraska Department of Education, who nominated Ebony.
Ebony, who became the state’s social studies specialist in 2019, leads the state’s work in implementing the Nebraska Legislature’s recent revisions to civics graduation requirements for our 286 public school districts. At the same time, she ensures those who have been historically marginalized throughout history are centered in conversations.
Growing up in Colorado, Ebony said she became a social studies teacher because she longed to learn more about herself and her history – answers that were difficult to find in the classroom. Today, Nebraska is “making a concerted effort to make sure that … our curriculum is inclusive of all people, regardless of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic statuses,” she told The Reader in 2021.
School districts maintain local control, and the standards include inquiry-based learning and challenging students to ask questions, analyze primary sources, think critically and come to informed conclusions. McKiver believes social studies learning is much more powerful through action and active learning, not simply getting facts from books.
“Civic knowledge and behavior aren’t what I do or what I teach – it’s who I am at my core and why I believe so strongly in ensuring that all students understand and demonstrate the power that comes with being engaged in their communities,” she said.
“I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”
Join us as we celebrate Ebony and her fellow Strengthening Democracy honorees on Thursday, June 9, at DelRay 817 in Lincoln. Save your spot today!