On Friday, Oct. 11, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor visited sixth-grade students at Trinity Christian Academy (TCA) to discuss her educational software program, iCivics, to teach the students how important it is to understand the U.S. government system. Justice O’Connor interacted one-on-one with students as they played the “Do I Have a Right?” game of iCivics on school-issued iPads. TCA is one of the first private schools in Texas to preview and implement iCivics.
After speaking with Justice O’Connor about iCivics, sixth-graders had the opportunity to ask her questions about serving on the Supreme Court, what it was like being the first woman to serve in that role and what obstacles she had to overcome as a trailblazer for not only women in government, but also women in law.
“Both of my parents are lawyers, and they told me how jealous they were that I was going to meet Justice O’Connor,” said sixth-grader Haleigh Brown. “I’ve always wanted to be a politician, but after hearing Justice O’Connor speak today, serving on the Supreme Court sounds like a good choice, too.”
Justice O'Connor, who always carries the Constitution in her purse, revealed her initial struggles as a woman pursuing a career in law. Despite graduating as both the first woman and at the top of her class from Stanford University, she was denied employment at law firms because she was a woman. Upon receiving her nomination to the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor said she was surprised, honored and aware of the significance her nomination carried. Her goal in serving on the Supreme Court was to set a good example for women and pave the way for future opportunities.
“The role Justice O’Connor played in expanding women’s rights educationally and professionally has helped pave the way for the advancement of our education system today, and we should look to her as an inspiration to continue this work in the future,” Scott Berthel, TCA’s middle school head, told the students on Friday. “There is still much work to be done in America and around the world. As one person, Justice O‘Connor accomplished so much; just imagine the impact we can make as we carry her legacy forward.”
Justice O’Connor’s visit to TCA came on the heels of the sixth-graders studying Roman government. History, English and Literature teacher Justin McGee used the opportunity to stress how much of the U.S. government system is based on Roman principles.
“It is important for us to evaluate how events of the past have shaped the world today so we can continue to make informed decisions that help make our country better tomorrow,” said McGee. “Justice O’Connor made a difference by remaining confident and upholding her moral values. We can all learn from her remarkable example.”
Justice O'Connor developed iCivics in 2009 in response to American citizens’ lack of understanding about the U.S. government and courts. Because civics does not typically appear on exit exams, many teachers do not have the resources or time available to integrate government into their curriculum. As a program that is digital, free and fun for students, iCivics helps young people learn to understand and respect the U.S. system of governance and carry on the country’s legacy of democracy.
The “Do I Have a Right?” game played by TCA sixth-graders during Justice O’Connor’s visit allows students to run their own law firm of lawyers who specialize in constitutional law. Students must decide whether potential clients have a right, and if so, match them with the correct lawyer. As students serve more clients and win more cases, their law firms will grow. The students expressed their enthusiasm about the game to Justice O’Connor, many commenting how much fun they had while learning about their constitutional rights.
About Trinity Christian Academy
Trinity Christian Academy (TCA) is an independent coeducational school, which offers families and their children a demanding, college preparatory curriculum within a Christian community. For more than 40 years, TCA has followed the goals of the founding board members of being a debt-free facility. TCA strives to honor God in the way it uses the funds that continue to be given to the school.