Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Interactions Among Branches of Government, Professional Development

Street Law Supreme Court Institute

Hi. I’ve survived the first week of school. Yes, it’s July. Yes, we start early. Yes, I love it. I love it because I can share my experiences with teaching before most of you do it! However, let me regale you with one of my favorite PD experiences while I attempt to find my marbles after the first week…

During the summer of 2016, I took 5 different PD trips. It was one of those summers that everything just fell into place. I also fell flat on my face upon my return because my summer is only six weeks, and this particular summer lead to me not being at school for the first week because I was at Stanford University learning about the Supreme Court from Dr. Larry Kramer. It was an incredible summer!

I started that summer by attending the Street Law Supreme Court Institute. And boy, was that a way to start a summer! I honestly cannot say enough about this experience, especially as an AP Government Teacher. It was also one of the best groups I have had the pleasure of working with! We still keep in touch via social media as well as seeing each other at different conferences, seminars, and the AP read {shout out to my roomie!}

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This Institute gave me a deeper understanding of the Supreme Court and how it functions. The 2017 binder is available for public view and you can see what the week entails.

For me, the biggest take-aways were as follows:

  1. Learning at Georgetown Law from people such as Lyle Dennison {he was incredible}. We got to have sit downs with former Supreme Court clerks, as well as work with lawyers who have presented cases in from of the Court, and written amicus briefs.
  2. Participating in a Moot Court. I got to be a justice, and the entire process was incredible because this is now how I assess my studentsBAE90E51-46D5-4848-AF64-A0180432B323
  3. Going to the Supreme Court for the last day of Court. This was unbelievable. Sitting in the front row was insane. I have a good view of all the justices, and they had a good view of us. Clarence Thomas looked down his glasses at me. John Roberts noticed us. Elena Kagan looked super excited to see us {come to find out, we got to meet her!} Samuel Alito gave a dissent from the bench on Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt and was noticeably unhappy. At one point, I looked over and saw Nina Totenberg. I was in absolute awe the entire time. It was incredibly quiet and formal. We also ate breakfast in the cafeteria, spotted Justice Kagan and I met the plantiff in the case, Amy Hagstrom and chatted with her about her experience.
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    Amy Hagstom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Women’s Health.

    4. The protestors.

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    Before Court.

     

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    This was after the Court decision in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The Capital in the background really struck me as I walked out and saw this.

    5. That night, we got to have a reception at the Court. We met Mrs. Cecilia Marshall, Thurgood Marshall’s wife. She was absolutely delightful and I may have cried meeting her. We talked with Justice Kagan, and she referenced me BY NAME. So, there was that. I found her to be incredibly personable and fun. Especially because we learned that when she was Solicitor General, she often listened to Lady Gaga on her way to Court.

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    Mrs. Cecilia Marshall

 

Here is the application for the 2019 Institute! I’ve recommended it to multiple people, including a colleague on my campus. This institute made me a better teacher because of the learning I got to do, and the experiences I was able to participate in. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me! I have nothing but amazing things to say about this experience!

With the AP redesign, I have found that having a clear and firm understanding of the Supreme Court has been instrumental in how I teach both the Judiciary, and Civil Rights/Civil Liberties. I posted about how I use Moot Court for my final assessment because it’s incredible how much learning goes on and how much the students LOVE it. 

 

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From this year’s moot court, semester 2– Masterpiece Cakeshop

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