We the People of the United States, in Order for form a more perfect Union …

When it comes to the U.S. Constitution, Andrew Seavy believes strongly in making sure his students recognize the importance of the principles set forth by our Founding Fathers.

“My philosophy has always been that we can’t be expected to uphold and defend our rights if we don’t know what they are,” says Seavy. “You have to educate people on the Constitution. Whether it’s history or geography, I try to pull it into all of my classes because it’s incredibly important.”

A teacher at Joplin High School and a ’16 graduate of Missouri Southern, Seavy’s dedication to increasing students’ knowledge of our country’s founding documents recently earned him a James Madison Fellowship.

Awarded by the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation in Alexandria, Va., it will fund up to $24,000 towards his degree, which he’s already started working toward through online courses at Kansas State University.

After serving in the Coast Guard for eight years, Seavy applied to Missouri Southern. He pursued his degree in teacher education, with an emphasis on social sciences.

“I always thought history is important and a frequently underrated subject,” he says. “I wanted to help educate future generations about American history.”

After getting his degree, he accepted a position at Joplin High School, where he teaches history, geography and civics.

Seavy says he first learned of the fellowship three years ago during a professional development event at Kansas State University. The award, which was founded by an act of Congress in 1986, is “intended to recognize promising and distinguished teachers, to strengthen their knowledge of the origins and development of American constitutional government and thus expose the nation’s secondary school students to accurate knowledge of the nation’s constitutional heritage,” according to a press release from the foundation.

“It sounded like a good deal, so I applied for the first time in 2018 and was selected as an alternate for the state of Missouri,” says Seavy. “I applied again in 2019. This year was my third time and I was chosen.”

The master’s program at Kansas State offers a variety of courses on the history and principles of the Constitution, which is one of the requirements for the fellowship. As another condition, Seavy must teach one year in a public or accredited private school for each year of graduate school – which isn’t a problem, he says.

“I love being at Joplin High School, and I love teaching,” he says. “Next summer, they’re sending me to Georgetown University for four weeks of intensive constitutional learning, all covered by the fellowship. I’m very appreciative of this opportunity.”