2006 Walter Barnard Hill Fellow Award | The Walter Barnard Hill Fellow Award recognizes sustained, distinguished, and superb achievement in university public service and outreach, and contributions to improving the quality of life in Georgia or elsewhere.
Mary Elizabeth Stakes, senior public service associate in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, is recognized statewide and nationally as an authority on civic education.
Through her publications, instructional materials, educational program development, and training workshops for educators, she is working to ensure that Georgia students and others have the knowledge, skills and values to be active citizens. Under Stakes’ leadership, civic education outreach at the University of Georgia has become a nationally recognized model for university-based support of civic education, according to James Ledbetter, director of the Vinson Institute.
Stakes began her career at the Institute in 1978. Since 1991, she has led the Institutes’ civic education program, which develops instructional materials and programs for students, educators, citizens and state legislators.
Stakes has created a variety of educational programs and materials: textbooks, instructional materials, handbooks, service-learning courses, teacher education and professional association presentations. More than half of Georgia’s eighth graders now learn civics from the textbook that Stakes coauthored, The Georgia Studies Book: Our State and the Nation. Tour guides at the state capitol use the book as a reference in the Capitol Tour program, according to Secretary of State Cathy Cox.
She has developed lesson plans that help teachers prepare elementary children for visits to the state capitol. The Georgia Municipal Association asked her to create lessons for teachers to use in conjunction with GMA’s Georgia Cities Week each spring. She also conducts continuing education programs, materials and trainings for educators on topics related to Georgia history, government, law, and civic education.
Among her numerous publications, she coauthored the 12th edition of the Handbook for Georgia Legislators, which is used to train new legislators. Several of her publications are standard references for Georgia legislators, including Georgia Retirement Systems: How They Compare.
Stakes has been appointed to the national Campaign to Promote Civic Education and coordinates Georgia’s Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, a five-year, 50 state effort to restore civic education in the nation’s schools. Under her leadership, the Georgia legislative delegation, policymakers and educators created a Civic Education Action Plan. In the coming year there will be three civic education summits around the state, a survey of K-5 civic education, and participation in the student poll worker program. Stakes is the state coordinator for the We the People: Project Citizen, a curriculum program for middle school students that promotes involvement in local and state government.
Her distinguished record has garnered honors that include: the 2001 Georgia Outstanding Educator Award from the Georgia Council for Social Studies, the most prestigious recognition for social studies education in Georgia; the 2002 Walter Barnard Hill Award from the University of Georgia; and the 2004 George S. Lewis Archaeological Stewardship Award from the Society for Georgia Archaeology to a non-professional who helps preserve and promote Georgia’s archaeological heritage.