Constitution Day 2020: Exploring First Amendment Freedoms and Civic Responsibility

To help mark Constitution Day 2020, three members of the John Marshall Center’s Education Committee developed and delivered an adapted Justice in the Classroom (JIC) program for students in Chesterfield County Public School’s Academy 360 Program for middle schoolers seeking to return to grade level. Committee members Lucretia Carrico, Debra Prillaman, and Cheryl Ragsdale conducted the remote webinar.

Using the protests in Richmond City that followed the death of George Floyd as an example, the John Marshall Center’s representatives led 47 students in an exploration of how First Amendment freedoms of speech and assembly intersect with civic responsibility and the rule of law. Following the presentation, students asked committee members about careers in the criminal justice system, including being a judge, lawyer, investigator, court reporter, and sheriff.

Justice in the Classroom is the Center’s instructional resource designed to teach middle and high school students about the constitutional foundation of the nation, its three co-equal branches of government, the rule of law, and the role of the judiciary in preserving the rights and liberties of all citizens. In advance of the visit, the committee members worked closely with Richard Dunn, a social studies teacher with Academy 360, to refine the presentation to meet his students’ needs.

In a letter thanking the Center for its efforts, Rebecca Harmon, Coordinator of Alternative Programs in Chesterfield County Schools, cited the team’s close work with participating educators as a key component in the program’s positive impact, stating “… the willingness of these individuals to collaborate with our staff ensure the ultimate success of the program.”

Debra Prillaman

From left to right, Prillaman, Lucretia Carrico, Chesterfield Public School social studies teacher Richard Dunn, and Cheryl Ragsdale