#grownupcivics: If Only Today’s Politicians Took Civics with Mary Dawn Pugh


In this episode of the Building Us podcast, co-hosts Erik Garcia, CFP® and Dr. Matt Morris, LPC, LMFT interview Mary Dawn Pugh, High School Civics teacher.  Mary Dawn talks about the significance of learning Civics and Geography, and the impact of virtual teaching on her students.

Episode Highlights:

  • Matt shares that laughter is a wonderful medicine for relationships and people who laugh together, tend to love together. (1:18)
  • Matt introduces Mary Dawn Pugh. (3:20)
  • Mary Dawn shares her background. (3:54)
  • What is it about teaching high school that Mary Dawn enjoys most? (4:33)
  • Mary Dawn shares that she teaches freshman Geography and senior Civics. (5:15)
  • Mary Dawn thinks that this is a great year for high school students to learn about government. (5:21)
  • Mary Dawn mentions that she uses the constitution more than a textbook. (6:24)
  • Mary Dawn shares that her students were also interested in the actual mechanics of impeachment. (6:59)
  • Mary Dawn shares that they also discuss taxes, free speech, and forms of government and they do it in a way where they can learn a lot. (8:54)
  • How does being an attorney help Mary Dawn in teaching civics and geography? (9:36)
  • When it comes to racial justice and police brutality issues, are those issues being discussed in Mary Dawn’s class, if so, how? (12:05)
  • Mary Dawn shares one of her best experiences as a teacher and it happened last year in advanced placement Geography class. (12:28)
  • Mary Dawn mentions that letting her students lead the class was the most remarkable educational experience she ever had. (13:52)
  • Mary Dawn shares that she starts her classes every year with an activity she learned from the facilitations for the anti-defamation league, and it’s built on the idea and the word respect. (14:36)
  • Erik shares that we don’t have to believe the same thing about politics, but we can still be in a relationship. We can still have a fruitful conversation, productive conversation, and live in a better position. (18:34)
  • Mary Dawn shares that one of the things they managed to do is keep it academic and not personal. (21:05)
  • Mary Dawn explains how presidential bingo is played. (24:32)
  • How does Mary Dawn teach her students currently? (26:31)
  • Mary Dawn shares that as they started the year, she was worried about her students not being able to engage, talk, or be involved in topics. (26:54)
  • Matt mentions that he’s been doing teletherapy with families and couples. (28:31)
  • Matt thinks that one aspect of doing virtual therapy is that we’re not as physically close to each other, the screen provides some distance and some level of protection. (28:5)
  • How does the virtual learning environment enhance Mary Dawn’s teaching? (29:39)
  • Mary Dawn mentions that the more they can laugh together, the more it builds their trust. (31:05)
  • Does Mary Dawn feel that her students are responding to the new environment? (31:42)
  • What memories will Mary Dawn look back upon and remember, about this year? (34:38)

Key Quotes:

  • “The students, they’re so much fun, they make me feel younger, and they just they’re so open. And they want to talk about things and they’re engaged and, and sometimes they’re silly, but sometimes they’re really deep and thoughtful. And the best moments are when I can learn from them.” – Mary Dawn Pugh
  • “We don’t argue politics in the classroom. But what I can do as a teacher is I’ve told students that their voices matter, their experiences matter and that they need to use their voices, they need to vote, they need to speak out, and they need to be active in creating a world that they want to live in.” – Mary Dawn Pugh
  • “It doesn’t matter to me which way they believe that taxes should go, but to know what they think about it and vote according to their well-founded beliefs. I care a lot about that.” – Mary Dawn Pugh
  • “I find that the virtual is not as good as being in a classroom. Just because of that energy and the camaraderie that a lot of these students have together. And just the laughter there’s not as much laughter.” – Mary Dawn Pugh
  • “It’s not all peaches and cream, but they’re soldiering through impressively. So it’s a great generation of kids that the parents out there right now are raising in my opinion.” – Mary Dawn Pugh
  • “The closeness of certain friendships and family relationships that have improved during the pandemic. The support that some especially teacher friends and I’ve had for each other right now has been life-giving.” – Mary Dawn Pugh

Resources Mentioned:

About Erik Garcia

Hi there, I'm Erik. How you manage your money and other resources impacts practically every aspect of your life. I help individuals and families invest plan for a more secure and predictable financial future. Thanks for taking time on my site!

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