Skip to main content

Educators Chosen to Write Lesson Plans for Annenberg Classroom Film ‘Juneteenth’

The Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan program of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, has announced the winning educators in the call for lesson plan proposals for its new 28-minute documentary about Juneteenth, part of the Annenberg Classroom’s award-winning Constitution Project series.

Educators from across the country, as well as a teacher in Central America, submitted proposals for review by a team of experienced education professionals. From that larger group, the committee selected one high school and two middle-school proposals. The completed lesson plans will be posted online* and available as one of the many free high-quality education resources on

Screen shot from JuneteenthThe selected educators, who teach in Washington State, California, and Illinois, will receive a stipend to develop the lesson plans for the film “Juneteenth” (see the trailer here). The three teachers have a combined 70 years of teaching experience and are the recipients of numerous teaching honors. Each shared their reasons for submitting a Juneteenth lesson-plan proposal.

Kathy Hagee, a high school teacher at San Domenico School in northern California, says she submitted a proposal to help students understand the connection between the past and the present: “As a teacher of Social Justice, I am very interested in creating a lesson plan that builds the background to the Juneteenth celebration. I am very committed to creating lesson plans that give students historical context so they can better approach the struggles … in the United States and around the world.”

Don Jenkins, a teacher at North Whidbey Middle School in Washington State, also strives to help his students understand historical connections, adding that Juneteenth is an important day to remember and honor. He appreciates that the history is presented in documentary format: “Using film to teach students about history is a good way to get them to take a deeper dive using primary sources and to discuss issues which are relevant today.”

Jennifer Smith teaches middle-school courses for Illinois Virtual Schools and Academy. She shares that her decision to write a lesson plan proposal came from personal experience: “I am interested in writing a lesson for the Juneteenth film because I didn’t learn about Juneteenth as a student, and it … provided me with a way to increase my own background knowledge on the topic and find a way to incorporate the information into my classroom.”

The teachers selected to develop Juneteenth lesson plans are:

Kathy Hagee has been a teacher for 22 years. She began her career in a large suburban public school in Pennsylvania before moving to California to be the History Chair at a small independent school in Los Angeles. Ms. Hagee’s expertise is in United States history and constitutional government, and she has extensive experience teaching AP U.S. History, United States Government and Economics, AP Psychology, and Social Justice. Ms. Hagee currently teaches at San Domenico School in northern California, where she also coordinates the school’s hallmark R.O.S.E program (Real Opportunities for Service Education).

Don Jenkins graduated from Southern Illinois University and has been a social studies educator for 30 years. He is a National Board Certified teacher, was named a Civic Engagement Champion by the National Association of State Boards of Education, and was selected as the 2021 Middle Level Teacher of the Year by the National Council for the Social Studies. He was selected as a Fulbright Scholar twice, most recently in the Philippines, where he worked with teachers at Ligao National High School on incorporating Project Citizen, design thinking, and technology in their classes. He has been chosen as a Fellow for the Korean War Legacy Foundation and the iCivics Educating for American Democracy project.

Jennifer Smith is a National Board Certified Teacher with 18 years of experience. She teaches middle-school courses for Illinois Virtual Schools and Academy. Ms. Smith holds master’s degrees in English, Elementary Education, and Teacher Leadership. Her accomplishments include receiving the Association of American Chemistry Teachers Middle School Teacher of the Year award and the Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction award, and she was named a PBS Digital Innovator. Ms. Smith is a lifelong learner who strives to continually improve her teaching practice.

* Update May 2023: The film “Juneteenth” debuted online on Feb. 28 and the lesson plans are now available.

See the film and download the lesson plans here: