On August 8 through August 10, 2022, the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Law Related Education (LRE) program organized the first New Hampshire-based “We the People” professional development for teachers. With support from the New Hampshire Bar Foundation’s Advancement of Justice, Advancement of Justice Restricted, and Frederic K. Upton funds, LRE was able to bring the innovative civics education program, “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution,” to more New Hampshire teachers.
The three-day training consisted of two days of lecture and discussion from acclaimed civics scholars and one day of simulated congressional hearings in the same vein as the curriculum the educators will use with their students. The first day began with remarks from new NHBA president, Jonathan Eck, followed by a lecture from Susan M. Leeson, Senior Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court and former professor of political science at Willamette University.
The second day included a lecture from David L. Hudson, Jr., Assistant Professor of Law at Belmont University College of Law and author of The Constitution Explained: A Guide for Every American. The final day consisted of simulated hearings, where teachers presented oral arguments to attorney judges, Anne Zinkin and Randy Gordon.
Throughout each day, teacher mentors, Dan Marcus of John Stark Regional High School and Trevor Duval of Hollis Brookline High School facilitated the hands-on training, lesson planning, and guidance through the curriculum.
In the past, We the People State Coordinator Michael Trofi held teacher professional developments, as part of the New England Coalition, at the Pell Center in Rhode Island, and then through the James Madison Legacy Project in Massachusetts. For the past few years, however, there have been no training sessions.
Tasked with growing more participation in the We the People program, LRE Coordinator Robin E. Knippers organized the training here in New Hampshire at the Bar Center in Concord.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done a We the People training from start to finish,” says Knippers. “I took the model that I was taught by Mike Trofi and it was hugely successful.”
One of the teachers in attendance was Laura Dwyer of Stearns Junior Senior High School in Millinocket, Maine. She indicated that Maine does not have funding for this type of teacher education, so she was very happy to be able to attend.
“Kudos to [the NHBA] for this incredible opportunity for teachers,” Dwyer says. “This reflects very positively on the Bar Association for their acknowledgement of the importance of civics education–especially for this kind of quality, with all the resources and scholars who were so passionate. The program hits all the standards and is very easy to implement. I can’t see why every teacher isn’t using it.”
About “We the People”
“We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” is an annual civics education program created in 1986 by the United States Department of Education as part of an initiative to strengthen civics education. In preparation for the culminating activity in the form of mock congressional hearings, classes learn about government and study the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Learn more about “We the People” at nhbar.org/civics-education/we-the-people/
About The New Hampshire Bar Association
The New Hampshire Bar Association (NHBA; Concord, NH; www.nhbar.org) is a non-profit 501(c)(6), court-mandated organization. Its members are all attorneys licensed to practice in the state, as well as all New Hampshire judges. Founded in 1873, the NHBA serves our members, the public, the justice system, and the profession.