Skip to Main Content

American Founders

Explore the lives of 25 of the men and women who shaped the United States in our America’s Founders Gallery. These are the people who helped frame our constitutional republic system of government.

Alexandrea Dudley

EducatorWilby High School • Waterbury, Connecticut

For seven years, Alexandrea Dudley has been living out her dream of teaching history to young people at Wilby High School in Waterbury, Connecticut. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, and I love history and thinking about where we have been and where we’re headed and I feel blessed that I get to share that love with my students.” During her time at Wilby, Alexandrea has taught World History, U.S. History, and Civics. Alexandrea received her Bachelor of Arts from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, and her Master of Education from St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine. In addition to teaching, she has also served as Co-Advisor of the National Honors Society at Wilby, Chair of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Curriculum Committee, and Waterbury Teacher’s Association’s Union Representative. As one of the newest members of BRI’s teacher council, Andrea will also be sharing her experience and passion for teaching social studies this year with nineteen other teachers, while helping write and pilot test resources and programs for teachers in the BRI network throughout the country.

Alisha Sanders

EducatorGettysburg Area Middle School • Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Alisha Sanders was very young when she knew she wanted to become a teacher. In first grade, I completed a ‘Getting to Know You’ worksheet on which I wrote [that] my goal was to become a teacher,” Alisha remembers. “I was reminded of this when I reached a crossroads on my career path and decided to get certified to teach while working full-time and raising young children.” A member of BRI’s 2021-2022 teacher advisory council, Alisha has been teaching for twelve years and currently teaches civics and government at Gettysburg Area Middle School in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. in Government and an M.Ed., and her proudest achievement is receiving an award from United Way for helping to develop a service-learning initiative at her school. Alisha says that some of her favorite BRI resources to use are the primary sources. “They can be linked to articles that are easy to access for online learners,” she points out, “and they help students make connections between the civics content and real-world events.” When asked who her favorite historical figure is, Alisha replies, “Barack Obama because of his profound courage and strength in the face of extreme adversity…It is quite challenging to be the first at anything, but it takes an even deeper level of courage to remain faithful and committed to your goals and the changes you wish to see.” On a personal level, however, her mother, Alisha says, has influenced her the most. “She always had faith in me and believed in me more than I believed in myself.”

Andi Maceo

EducatorHastings High School • Houston, Texas

Although Andi Maceo comes from a family of educators and has been teaching for 12 years now, she once questioned if she had what it takes to be a teacher. She was working as a recruiter for The Art Institute of Houston when that changed. “I felt I could do more to show kids the opportunities that were available to them,” she recalls. She moved on to teaching art, a position she held for six years. However, she eventually moved into teaching history full time after finding a job as an 11th grade U.S. history educator at her current school, Hastings High School in Houston, Texas. This proved to be a challenging shift as Andi’s background was in European and Latin American history. “I have spent the last 6 years learning everything I can to become effective in U.S. History,” Andi says. Andi has been married to her husband Karl for nearly seven years. They live with their two cats in Missouri City, a small suburb outside of Houston. In her free time, Andi enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, and baking.

Andrea Martin

EducatorDupuy Alternative School • Birmingham, Alabama

“One of the most awesome things about my job,” says Andrea Martin, “is that it is always an adventure.” It’s not hard to see why. As the History and Social Sciences Educator at Dupuy Alternative School in Birmingham, Alabama, Andrea teaches Geography, Civics, Ancient World History, Modern World History, U.S. History, Government and Economics. Andrea has a B.A from the University of North Alabama and a Masters from the University of South Alabama. She has been teaching since 2014 and has been using BRI resources and attending BRI programs since 2017. “I love the Bill of Rights Institute because they’ve opened so many doors for me and for my students with the materials they provide and the way they break down those materials. My students especially love studying the Supreme Court cases [Supreme Court DBQs].” “One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to talk to the kids about how we can apply history to our daily lives,” says Andrea, “especially how we can study history, we can be fully present right now, and we can always change our future.”

Beth Feest

EducatorChristian Life School • Kenosha, Wisconsin

Beth Feest’s first experience with BRI was as an attendee of the 2013 Summer Institute. In her words, “it was a life-changing experience,” and it made her a huge fan of anything produced by BRI since then. She appreciates the staff’s enthusiasm and knowledge and says that the quality of the resources produced is “top-notch.” Beth teaches U.S. History, AP U.S. History, AP European History, and Financial Literacy at Christian Life School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and is currently a member of BRI’s Teacher Council. In addition, she was recognized by a local VFW post with the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ National Citizenship Education Teacher Post Recognition Award in 2017 and won the Holocaust Educator Award from the Milwaukee Jewish Community Council in 2018. She has been teaching for 29 years and credits her college professor, Dr. Fred Smith, for helping her figure out that she wanted to be an educator. She changed her major second during the second semester of her junior year and still graduated on time! For continued inspiration, she looks up to Major Dick Winters, a WWII veteran and leader of Easy Company in the 2nd Battalion, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. She says, “I love his attitude and ability to lead in very tough situations. His motto of “follow me” in combat was/is so inspiring and the type of leader that I want to be.

Brandon Barger


Brandon decided he wanted to be a high school history teacher when he was a high school student. Today, Brandon is an economics and American history teacher in Rose Hill, Kansas. He has been teaching for 19 years, during which he has been a regular attendee at BRI one-day and multi-day PD programming. He has also recommended our Constitutional Academy (BRI’s summer student program) to a number of his students. As a regular attendee at BRI programming, Brandon has seen to most of BRI’s resources first hand, but his favorite BRI resource is Documents of Freedom. He says its “primary source documents are my first go to when looking for resources in my classroom. They fit so easily into my plans and have great course content”. He appreciates that most of the material he receives from the Institute is immediately useful in his classroom. Thomas Jefferson and WWII are the two favorite parts of his curriculum. He admires Jefferson for writing the Declaration of Independence and enjoys talking about all its complexities with his students. He also notes he is very jealous of Jefferson’s library. WWII is also a favorite topic and he highly recommends the WWII museum in Kansas City to other educators.

Brett Michael Mills

EducatorSt. Thomas High School • Houston, Texas

Brett Michael Mills loves a good story and appreciates a good storyteller. It’s a quality that led him to list Abraham Lincoln as one of his favorite figures from history and a quality he admires in his dad, one of his biggest influences. It’s also a talent Brett brings to the classroom and his work as a professional development instructor with the Bill of Rights Institute. Brett has been in the classroom for 28 years. Currently, he teaches U.S. History, U.S. Military History, Warfare in Antiquity, History of the Cold War, and Civil War Era at St. Thomas High School in Houston, Texas. He received his B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Montana and has an M.A. in Military Studies (Military History) from the American Military University. He first knew he wanted to be a historian and teacher when he was very young, but his life took a slight detour (six years in the United States Army) before landing in the classroom. Brett’s proudest achievements as an educator are the five elective courses he designed that are used daily and have high student demand every year. “I have been improving them each year,” says Brett, “and I am really excited about my newest class, the Civil War Era, and the positive student response to it.” He has also created the History Guild, which provides professional development content to teachers in the Houston metroplex. Brett has been using BRI resources in his classroom for many years before joining the Institute as a PDI. “BRI uses a wide variety of scholars to create the most current and well-written content…and it is located online and is extremely easy to search for the content you want to use,” Brett notes. “My personal favorites are the point/counter-point lessons – I use them all of the time in the classroom!” Outside of the classroom, Brett is a rugby fanatic. “I played for 11 years,” he says, “and have been coaching (high school, college, men’s) since then. I have also done television and radio broadcasting for Major League Rugby (Houston Sabercats), and last season was the Sabercats public address announcer.” Aside from his dad, Brett says his biggest inspiration is his wife of 32 years, Sonya. “She inspires me with her love, empathy, work ethic, and commitment to excellence – I would definitely be a different person without her influence!”

Clint Rodreick

EducatorPhoenix High School • Phoenix, Oregon

A Bill of Rights Institute Teacher Council member from Phoenix, Oregon, Clint Rodereick has been teaching classes including AP U.S. History, Economics, and Speech and Debate for thirteen years. As certain issues have become increasingly polarized over the course of his teaching career, Clint appreciates the format of BRI seminars and the discourse that they promote while remaining rooted in primary texts. Asked to consider his proudest accomplishments as a teacher, Clint cites reading his student’s final reflections about “the nature of perspective and how it has opened their minds and hearts to those who see and experience the world differently than they do.” It’s moments like these that remind Clint of why he chose teaching over going to law school; his desire to “make a difference on the front end of things, rather than the back end.” While Clint did not end up becoming a lawyer, his interest in doing so mirrors that of his favorite historical figure, Malcolm X. What Clint appreciates about Malcolm X is his ability to “critique systems and ideologies as well as his ability to grow and evolve and adapt in his own beliefs towards the end of his life.” Another person that Clint finds particularly inspiring is his father who he credits with developing his work ethic.

Craig Hanzel


Craig Hanzel has been teaching for fifteen years and has been using BRI resources in his classroom for most of that time, having attended his first BRI seminar in 2006. “BRI is my favorite professional development opportunity of the school year. I always walk away with new content knowledge, ready-to-use lessons and thorough instructional strategies that can easily be lent to my varied classes.” Relevancy is key, according to Craig, in working with high school students and finding new ways to unite them around a common goal. He is always looking for innovative strategies to bring this concept to life for his students. He not only teaches public policy, but also shows students how it plays out in the real world by taking his seniors to the county courthouse so they can job-shadow in various departments. Craig is lucky to share his passion for teaching government and U.S. history with his wife, Laura, who also teaches social studies at Atchison High. Laura and Craig often attend seminars together, and are able to share ideas for new lesson plans and teaching strategies with each other. In addition to his responsibilities as a teacher, husband, and father of four, Craig also finds time to teach karate at the local YMCA, serve as an adjunct professor at Benedictine College, and mentor new teachers in his district.

Eliot Waxman


Eliot Waxman has had a wide variety of experiences working both as a teacher and in politics, all of which have shaped his opinions on the state of education in the U.S. “If we really want students to be lifelong learners in an ever-changing world, we need to give them authentic and rigorous opportunities. They need to be able to learn in ways that are meaningful to them,” he states. Throughout his career, Eliot has worked as a public opinion pollster, in the federal government’s community service programs, and as a teacher of a variety of high school government and history classes. Eliot’s greatest influence during his career was his principal at Oakton High School. “He set a vision for the school that challenged the status quo and had us think about what education in the 21st century should look like. He then trusted his staff to implement the vision in the way they thought was best for the students,” Eliot recalls. One of Eliot’s proudest achievements was when he helped create a student debate during the 2008 presidential election that was aired on C-SPAN. Eliot especially enjoys teaching the Campaigns & Elections unit to his government classes. “I was a political consultant before I became a teacher and I like to share my experiences with the students. I particularly like to see students engaging with their elected representatives and discussing the relevant issues of the day, especially with their parents,” Eliot says. He is very interested in helping students become “effective citizens” and ultimately views it as one of his responsibilities as a teacher.

Felix Yerace


One of the central themes of Felix Yerace’s career is leadership and fostering leadership skills among the young people he works with is one of his passions. In addition to teaching at South Fayette High School in McDonald, Pennsylvania for the last fifteen years, he has also served as the assistant executive director and Advanced Gold Summer Camp co-director for the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils since January of 2018. This year, in addition to serving on BRI’s Teacher Advisory Council, Felix is teaching AP U.S. History and AP Comparative Government and Politics, U.S. History, Leadership Studies I and II, and Applied Positive Psychology. The U.S. History and Leadership II classes are both College in High School (CHS) classes. In the middle of all of these responsibilities, Felix also finds the time to serve as a student government co-adviser, interact co-adviser, link crew co-coordinator, and graduation project coordinator at South Fayette High. Felix earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Education from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology from University of Pennsylvania, a Masters of Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and a PhD in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University.

Grace Struiksma

EducatorChanning Hall IB World School • Draper, Utah

Grace Struiksma realized that she wanted to be a teacher when she was a young child. “I loved school, and when I wasn’t attending school, I would line up my dolls and stuffed animals in front of my chalkboard and teach them what I learned.” Grace was one of twenty teachers who joined us for our week-long Summer Institute here in D.C. last month. She has been teaching for 24 years, and currently teaches US History, Utah Studies, History Through Cinema, and The World Through Film at Channing Hall IB World School in Draper, Utah. Her proudest achievement is receiving the KSL Radio Teacher of the Week award because the award was based on a letter written by a student who felt that Grace had made a significant difference in her own life and the lives of other students. She loves teaching about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights because it’s an opportunity to remind her students that these documents and principles are relevant to their daily lives. “Students need to know,” Grace says, “That we are ‘we the people,’ and it is our duty, honor, and privilege to serve our fellow citizens through government work or simply being an active participant in our democracy.”