JUSTICE TEACHING TO HONOR LEADERS IN CIVICS EDUCATION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2017
CONTACT: Jeff Doran; [email protected],
The Florida Bar
TELEPHONE: (850) 561-5773
Three Justice Teaching Awards will be presented by Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis during the Judicial Luncheon on June 22 at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention in Boca Raton. The awards honor a teacher, a volunteer and a judge for their dedication in teaching Florida students about their government and the courts.
Justice Teaching is a statewide effort by judges and lawyers to engage students in the workings of the justice system. Justice Lewis founded Justice Teaching in 2006, with the ultimate goal to pair a legal professional with every elementary, middle and high school in Florida. Today, the organization has more than 4,000 volunteer lawyers and judges, delivering interactive civics lessons in Florida schools.
“I commend these leaders on their commitment and service to helping the next generation of Floridians make informed decisions about our society’s future,” said Justice Lewis. “Their stories exemplify how professional attorneys and judges, through Justice Teaching, are having a profound positive influence on the youth and citizens of our state.”
The three award winners are:
· Teacher of the Year: Jasmine Oxley, Viera
· Volunteer of the Year: Bruce A. Blitman, Pembroke Pines
· Justice Teaching Select Committee Judge of the Year: Hon. Christopher N. Patterson, Bonifay
Jasmine Oxley teaches seventh-grade civics education at Viera Charter School. She works closely with local attorneys to bring meaningful civics education experience to her students. Oxley schedules in-person visits with Justice Teaching-trained lawyers and judges as part of Constitution Month; spearheads a student-led mock trial at the Brevard County Courthouse; and coordinates field trips to put the students in the middle of the legislative process in Tallahassee. Oxley also engages students in real-time discussion with local attorneys on issues that interest them. She emails questions to lawyers and then lets the students dialogue to search out the answers with Florida Bar-licensed attorneys. As students show an interest in a particular area of the government or law, Oxley calls on the attorneys to provide resources to further encourage the students learning. The classroom learning environment is greatly enhanced with her use of the Justice Teaching program.
Attorney Bruce Blitman, the volunteer award winner, works with educators at Bethune Elementary School in Hollywood. For more than five years, Blitman has spent an entire morning each month during the school year, guiding fifth-graders through the legal system and government. He reaches out to the legal community and local government to recruit and retain role-model speakers to bring their real world experiences to the classroom. These have included Florida Supreme Court justices, mayors, state legislators, judges and a famous author. Blitman shows great insight and care for student achievement at an inner-city school with many students with ESE (exceptional student education) disabilities. Every class requires different methods of instruction and guidance. Blitman tailors his lessons and choices of guest speakers to fit the style and learning needs of each class. He truly has the students’ best interests at heart.
The Hon. Christopher N. Patterson of Bonifay is the Justice Teaching Judge of the Year. Since he became a member of The Florida Bar in 1985, he has volunteered his time to civics education. First as an attorney, Judge Patterson was an active volunteer instrumental in the Bay County Teen Court and in helping create the Washington County Teen Court. As a judge, he has volunteered his time to train attorneys in the Justice Teaching program and has presided as a courtroom judge and assisted with mock trials. Students see Judge Patterson’s love and passion for the legal profession and the court system, not only in court but in life. His influences continue from youth to adults, and he encourages everyone he comes in contact with to pursue their goals without limitation. Most recently he was assigned to Rhoulac Middle School in Washington County and is active with the youth there. To address a high rate of juvenile arrests in the middle school ages, he is redirecting youth by instilling in them values and encouraging them to be on the right side of the law. A natural with the kids, he has a hands-on approach that helps one child become a family and family become a community.
The Law Related Education Committee of The Florida Bar supports Justice Teaching and assists in the awards nominations process.
To learn more about Justice Teaching, please visit www.justiceteaching.org.
EDITORS: Please note The Florida Bar is not an association and "Association" is not part of our name. Proper reference is "The Florida Bar." Local bar organizations are properly termed "associations."