Twenty five San Diego County social studies and law career path teachers participated in an event created specifically for them through the joint effort of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, San Diego County Office of Education and the San Diego Unified School District. The program held October 2, 2013, was designed to support the 5th, 8th and 12th grade transition to common core state standards, to focus on the importance of the judicial branch of government, and to help teachers promote civic responsibility and good citizenship among their students.
District Judge Janis L. Sammartino, Senior District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller, Chief Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes, Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major, Clerk of Court W. Samuel Hamrick, Jr., and Assistant Circuit Executive David Madden all presented information to the teachers and presided over specially set calendars giving the teachers an opportunity to observe actual court proceedings. The presenters then engaged with the teachers in small groups over lunch to discuss what they had seen and learned, allowing them to ask individual questions and delve more deeply into the subject matter.
The teachers reported that the program exceeded their expectations and that it was one of the best professional development opportunities they had been given. Having the opportunity to speak face-to-face with a federal judge was a highlight of the event. So, despite the obstacles of having to find a substitute teacher and navigating traffic into downtown San Diego, the teachers felt they had gained a lot of useful information from the program that they could take back to their students. They also learned about the numerous community outreach programs available in the Southern Distict of California for their students to participate in throughout the school year.
The court hopes to build on the success of this event and host another Court Connection program in June, 2014.