Who is Justice Teaching? A judge turned superhero teacher? Fighting to renew understanding of the American judicial system and its crucial role in the success of our Nation? Well, yes, in some ways; but Justice Teaching is not limited to justices and judges, only. Justice Teaching includes attorneys who are members of The Florida Bar.
Why, Justice Teaching? According to the website, www.justiceteaching.org, state and national surveys frequently suggest that Americans know too little about the operation of the American justice system, and too many do not understand the basic principles underlying our constitutional institutions and structures.
There has been a long drift downward when it comes to the subject of Civics. When I was in high school, Civics was its own separate part of the curriculum. In fact, it was in Civics class at St. Augustine High School where I first saw a lawyer in person; it was Frank D. Upchurch, Jr., who later went on to be an appellate judge. He was there as a part of career day appearances by local professionals and people in business. In my mind, I have always attributed my decision to become a lawyer to that classroom visit by Mr. Upchurch.
Justice Teaching is an effort by judges and lawyers to turn things around, especially the understanding of our judicial system among students, who, before we know it, will be voters and jurors. The ultimate goal is to pair a legal professional with every elementary, middle, and high school in the state of Florida.
The program benefits students by promoting an understanding of Florida’s justice system and our laws, expanding critical thinking skills and problem solving skills, and demonstrating the interaction of our courts within the constitutional structure. Justice Teaching is governed by a Select Committee with judges from each of Florida’s five appellate districts and twenty judicial circuits, and representatives of The Florida Bar, the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, and the Florida Law Related Education Association.
Volunteers are needed to partner with local schools and to serve as resource persons in the classroom. If you are a Florida attorney and enjoy working with students and want to help teach about the courts, our governmental structure, and the Constitution, Justice Teaching would welcome your help. You will really like doing it, and you will come away with a real sense of accomplishment.
By taking the Justice Teaching training and going into the schools you will be an important part of an ongoing exercise in democracy; you will be helping Florida’s next generation become better prepared to understand, protect, and improve our State and Nation.
Volunteers may register for Justice Teaching and select from a list of available schools in their area through the Justice Teaching Website: http://www.justiceteaching.org. This important work will take no more than two hours a month. Easy to use activity modules and lesson plans are available on the website.
Wayne Hogan, president of the TERRELL · HOGAN law firm, visited Mary Chowenhill’s American Government class to lead an interactive discussion and role playing exercise about the Bills of Rights.
Robert E. Lee High School Students Get Real Life Lesson in Bill of Rights