One of the reasons I love teaching middle and high school is the ability to “keep things real” with my students. To listen to them dive into current national and global issues, supporting their opinions, opposing others’, realizing the impact these events can and often do have on their own daily lives here in lil’ Rhody. I’ve always maintained a classroom of honesty and openness.
But in early October, I received news that I could not share with my students…just yet. It was one of the biggest and most difficult secrets I had to keep. Especially since I had just introduced my 8th graders to iCivics and they had just begun their 2nd year with Generation Citizen, a program I have been a strong supporter of for the past 5 years.
“Are you SERIOUS?!” “Am I being punked?” “Where are the cameras?!”
A barrage of disbelief came pouring out of me. “Would The Highlander Charter School like to host Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and show her how iCivics is working here in RI?!”
Only days before her arrival, I announced this to my students, and like me, they were in shock…and immediately went into action. Two artistic students drew a portrait of her that they presented to her on October 9th as she spent more than an hour answering students questions, sharing about her childhood and time on the Supreme Court. “I think I did pretty well,” chuckled the 83-year-old O’Connor who is just as spirited today as she was in 1981 when then President Ronald Reagan appointed her—the first woman– to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
To be addressed by someone we read about in our textbooks and who had such an instrumental role in decisions that impact our lives as Americans today, is an experience that neither my students nor I will ever forget.
– Soljane Quiles, Teacher at Highlander Charter School, RI
Click here for photos of Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice O’Connor on her visit to Highlander Charter School!
Generation Citizen is a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 tax exempt organization which does not endorse candidates; our goal is to engage our staff, participants, and stakeholders in political and civic action on issues that matter to them personally and in their communities. The opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the writer alone and do not reflect the opinions of Generation Citizen