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March 14, 2014
By Samantha Cole, media relations assistant
Northwest Missouri State University’s Student Activities Council will host sixth-grade teacher, mother and one-time congressional candidate Tierney Cahill for its last SAC Speaks lecture of the academic year.
Cahill will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom. The lecture is free and open to the public.
“We chose to bring Tierney to campus because she has a very unique story about her journey while running for Congress,” said Emily Doss, SAC’s director of lecture programming. “Her story shows how anyone can use an opportunity in their life as a learning and teaching experience. Students can expect to hear something they’ve never heard before and hopefully it will help them realize they too can do anything they set their minds to.”
Cahill teaches at Sarah Winnemucca Elementary School in Reno, Nev. While teaching a civics lesson about how elections and the government work, her students did not believe her when she said any “normal” American could run for office. Cahill’s students challenged her to prove them wrong. To inspire them, she went above her teaching responsibilities and dedicated herself to running for the District 2 Congressional seat.
She began her campaign as a Democrat and to her surprise, beat the other Democratic candidates to advance and face Republican Jim Gibbons in the final election. Despite a lack of funding for her campaign Cahill threw herself whole-heartedly into the race. She focused on issues including education, mental health and nuclear waste.
Cahill received an unexpected 34 percent of the votes and, although she lost, succeeded in teaching her students the value of civic duty through project-based learning. What began as a classroom experiment became a lesson in 21st century education.
Cahill’s story is the subject of the film “Class Act,” starring Halle Berry and written and directed by Doug Atchison. Her personal memoir, “Ms. Cahill for Congress,” was published in 2008 by Random House. She has also been featured in the nationally-published book, “Teachers: The Enlightened, the Exceptional, the Extraordinary.”
To learn more about Cahill and her story visit www.mscahillforcongress.com.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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