Advanced Placement Summer Institutes Instructor Spotlight! - Rachel Ryan

Posted by Fitchburg State University on June 2, 2023 at 4:26 PM

Tell us a little about yourself:

I became active in politics at eleven when my mother made me volunteer for the campaign she was running for her best friend. I was hooked and knew I wanted to be involved in politics from then on. 


How long have you been involved with AP courses? How did you get started as a consultant?

I took the first AP US Government and Politics exam when it was offered and began teaching it a couple of years into my teaching career. I have been teaching the course for over 25 years. I teach at the Taft School in Watertown, CT, where we run an APSI.   For six summers, I was the assistant director of the program. I loved the program so much that I decided to apply to be a consultant. I love teaching other teachers who are passionate about government and politics.  


What is the most helpful advice you’ve received?

The most helpful advice that I have received is to attend the reading. Once I did that for the first time, I knew exactly how to teach my students. It is also so much more fun and interesting than you think. I have also met wonderful people who are now terrific friends. 


What is one piece of advice would you give AP instructors?

The best advice that I can give is to stay on top of current events. I have learned more about this subject by following the news closely. I listen to NPR and podcasts. I read major newspapers and blogs and will catch up on the headlines with the cable news. I then bring current events into the class, which the students enjoy and learn from.  


Rachael Ryan has been teaching AP US Government and Politics for 25 years.  She began reading the AP exams in 2006 and is currently a Table Leader. Rachael received her BA in US Government from Georgetown University and a Master’s in Liberal Arts from Harvard University. She helped edit AMSCO’s American Government by David Wofford and edited the test bank for WW Norton’s American Politics Today. Rachael has been teaching at the Taft School in Watertowimage (27)n, CT, since 2000.  She has worked on numerous political campaigns and is currently an elected member of the Watertown Town Council. In 2014, Rachael was awarded The Littlejohn Family Chair 2014, which “is awarded to a faculty member whose commitment to the whole student exemplifies the underlying philosophy of the Taft education, and who demonstrates a passion for his or her academic discipline, a profound caring for the emotional and intellectual life of students, and has made a significant and positive difference in the lives of her students.” She lives in Watertown, CT, with her husband and two children.

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Topics: Advanced Placement Summer Institutes