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Guest Speakers Bring a New Element to Drew Benfer’s Virtual Classroom

drew benfer guest speaker history


In Drew Benfer‘s AFS Everywhere classroom, he has made the most of the wave of virtual meeting and learning by inviting an impressive roster of guest speakers to his classroom. Drew said, “I believe that the willingness of people to join my classes via Zoom demonstrates the spirit of cooperation and care during these unprecedented times.”

Recently in Drew’s sophomore History 2 Honors course he had Rod Rodriguez, President and Chief Executive Officer of the the Global War on Terrorism Memorial (GWOT) Foundation speak to the class about his experience. The students were assigned to create a memorial of their own or in small groups and will ultimately share what they have created with Rod. In addition, students can create a single room of an exhibit that would accompany the opening of the GWOT Memorial.

Drew explained that he invited Rod to join his class for several reasons, “First, I wanted students to hear the perspective of someone who participated in the GWOT to give his first-hand account. The assignment started with students interviewing an adult in their lives, but Rod provided a fresh perspective for the students. Second, I wanted the class to develop their critical thinking skills by asking questions and they most certainly did so in the first session with Rod. Finally, I want students to think about historical memory and how stories are told about events in the United States. The fact that the GWOT Memorial is not designed or constructed gives students a chance to tell the story of a time in history that is still happening.”

Drew has also invited several experts and professionals to his Presidential Politics class—an elective for juniors and seniors.

  • Natasha Fee shared why and how her organization encourages women to run for office.
  • Jane Caputi spoke about the role of gender in the 2016 presidential election and the use of paraphernalia made and sold by supporters of the candidates.
  • David Reiter spoke about media bias and the role of journalists who ask questions of President Trump.
  • Lauren Mayk spoke about media bias and her experience interviewing both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the role of local news.
  • Jim Antle spoke about media bias from the perspective of a conservative.
  • Tim Murtaugh spoke about his work as Director of Communications for Trump 2020, media bias, and President Trump’s response to the current crisis.
  • Jesse Wegman talked about his new book and made an argument against the Electoral College.
  • Patrick Rosenstiel came to talk about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
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