Teachers Learn by Seeing 'Government in Action'
By Csaba Sukosd | February 21, 2023
Experiencing state government up close and speaking directly with decision makers can go a long way for teachers who are shaping the next generation of Ohio voters and leaders.
Teachers from across the state came to Columbus to get an inside look at the judiciary and how to take what they learned back to their students as part of a two-day conference known as Government in Action. The Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) partners with the Supreme Court of Ohio to show teachers how the state's highest court operates in person.
"For judges across the state, it is you who stand in the gap to educate others about what we do by giving them the great civic lessons of days gone by," said Chief Justice Sharon L. Kennedy during a meet-and-greet with the justices.
The visit included watching a Supreme Court oral argument and talking with the justices and attorneys involved. The teachers asked about the work that went into the case and spoke with the justices to better understand the appellate process.
"You get see the humanity of what our government is, as well as the process and the policies," said Wes McKown, a government teacher in Knox County.
"These teachers are having their voices heard, and to some extent the voices of their students. They're also getting information directly from the source," added Kate Strickland, OCLRE's executive director.
Techers went on a tour of the historic Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center and the award-winning Visitor Education Center, which offers interactive exhibits explaining the role of the judiciary and groundbreaking legal cases in Ohio. They also learned about online resources to incorporate in the classroom. One example is Under Advisement - an interactive program that guides students through the process of previously decided Supreme Court cases.
"I've lived in Columbus for over 30 years and can't believe I haven't visited here before with all this place has to offer," said Jennifer Hawkins-Newman, a teacher in Gahanna.
Visiting the Supreme Court and watching oral arguments also emphasized civility, with attorneys presenting opposing viewpoints and the top court resolving disagreements with thoughtful discussion. For Brandon Brywczynski, the experience will help him "to create educated, respectful citizens" in his Henry County classroom.
"They are the next generation and soon they'll be responsible for making the world better, whether that's by practicing the law or better understanding it," said Brywczynski.