Elayna Direnfeld Image

Elayna Direnfeld

BASIS Oro Valley

Oro Valley, AZ

Elayna Direnfeld began pursuing a career in civic education in part due to her experiences as an intern at her local congressional office during college. During that time, she saw firsthand the degree to which civic education, or a lack thereof can affect political discourse. For the last nine years, Ms. Direnfeld has been teaching AP US Government and Politics and AP Comparative Government and Politics at BASIS Oro Valley. Since starting at BASIS Oro Valley, Ms. Direnfeld has won the 2021 Excellence in Civics Education Award from the Arizona District Court. In addition, she has led three trips to Washington, D.C., for her students through Close Up D.C.

In addition to teaching her students, Ms. Direnfeld served as the BASIS Oro Valley Mock Trial coach for six years. While working with Mock Trial, Ms. Direnfeld worked to help her students achieve a better awareness of the legal system, gain skills in public speaking, and work as a team and improve their communication with one another. In addition to increasing their legal skills, Ms. Direnfeld used Mock Trial to ensure that students participating in the club gained respect for the law and its importance as a part of a robust democratic society. During her years as the coach for Mock Trial, the BASIS Oro Valley team grew from two teams to five teams at the regional tournament and went from not placing to being the regional champions four years in a row. In her last three years with Mock Trial, BASIS Oro Valley placed in the top three at the state tournament.

Besides Mock Trial, Ms. Direnfeld also encourages her students to participate in the American Legion Oratorical Competition. The competition encourages students to learn about the Constitution and give speeches about its history and content. For the past four years, her students have won the Arizona State Finals Competition, and last year, one of her students placed in the top ten at the National Competition.  Ms. Direnfeld also coaches teams in the iCivics Arizona E-Tournament, which encourages students to explore the US Government through iCivics games. During the last three years, Ms. Direnfeld has brought numerous teams to the State E-Tournament. BASIS Oro Valley is currently the back-to-back high school division champion after sweeping the top three spots in the 2023 State E-Tournament. Next year, she looks forward to expanding the teams to include middle school competitors. Ms. Direnfeld is excited to continue her work with law-related education and looks forward to many more years teaching young adults to embrace our democracy.