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Riverton U.S. Government Classes Welcome a Guest Instructor

Mar 10, 2016 09:59AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com

South Valley - Two Riverton High School U.S. government classes got a visit from Rep. Dan McCay R-Riverton during the last period of the second quarter. 

McCay, who has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and taught LDS seminary classes for four years, “was no rookie” in delivering classroom instruction, according to Jim Groethe, Riverton High U.S. government teacher. 

McCay decided he wanted to volunteer as a guest instructor during the last legislative session. 

“I want to do what I can to help these students and build the leaders of tomorrow, and there are multiple issues that these students need to be aware of,” McCay said. 

McCay brought up 12 issues that have been discussed and voted on during his time in office. He would explain both sides of the issue as unbiased as he could, and then ask the students to vote as if they were the ones determining the outcome, Groethe said. 

“My goal was to get them to think about issues that they may not hear about in the press. I wanted them to really understand both sides of an issue, and really come to understand what kinds of things we vote on,” McCay said. 

After the students voted, McCay would divulge which way he voted in the state legislature, and lead a discussion asking the students to talk through their own thoughts, Groethe said. 

Some of the issues discussed were mandatory divorce classes, cow sharing, DUI vehicle check points, hair-braiding licenses and online taxing.

“Not all the kids agreed with his side, and he would acknowledge when they had a valid point,” Groethe said. “Should families be allowed to share the milk or the meat of cows? Should hair stylists who only braid hair be required to a license? These are questions these students probably don’t normally think about.” 

McCay said he made a point to choose bipartisan issues to discuss because he wanted students to vote based on their own thoughts after hearing both sides of an issue, instead of voting based on what party they identify with.

Groethe said his class seemed to have an “outstanding” experience because they were able to converse with someone who is directly involved with the government and creating laws. The students could see how seriously McCay takes his job, which was an “absolutely valuable experience.”  

McCay contacted the principal about coming to teach government classes. When the principal asked if teachers were interested, two teachers, Groethe and Clifford Strieby, responded affirmatively.

McCay chose to go to Riverton High School because it’s the district he represents, but he said he’d gladly teach at any school if they asked him.

Even though Groethe had taught the topics he thought would fit best with McCay’s presentation months earlier – federalism and state rights – he still wanted McCay to come teach the class, so he shortened his U.S foreign policy unit.

“It’s a whole new level of engagement when you have a visitor like that. I find that more valuable at the end of the day than little facts here and there that we teach that come and go,” Groethe said. “To have the students hear and process and form opinions and experiment, it helps them really come to understand what we are trying to teach them in class.” 

McCay said he loved teaching at Riverton High because it “gave him a rush” to be in front of the classroom again. 

Groethe and McCay are already talking about how they can arrange a similar class for next quarter’s government classes. 

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