Colorado Civics Education Program Receives Sandra Day O’Connor Award

by Doug Chartier


Judicially Speaking, a Colorado-based civics education program, was named recipient of the 2015 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education, which is presented annually by the National Center for State Courts. The award honors an organization, court or individual who has promoted, inspired, improved or led an innovation or accomplishment in the field of civics education related to the justice system. Details of the awards presentation have not been finalized.

NCSC President Mary McQueen said Judicially Speaking was selected, in part, because of its track record of “teaching young people about the realities of living in a society that embraces the rule of law. One of its strengths is its philosophy of learning by doing — judges going to classrooms, youth correctional facilities, and alternative schools not to lecture, but to interact with students to teach a deeper understanding about the role courts play in everyday life,” McQueen said.

Judicially Speaking was started in 2009 by three local Colorado judges – David Shakes, Theresa Cisneros, and David Prince. In the program, judges go into the classroom to work directly with students and teachers by using interactive exercises that help students learn how judges make decisions. Since its inception, the program has spread statewide reaching thousands of middle- and high-school students and has been integrated into Colorado’s social studies curriculum. The program also is being used in Colorado juvenile correction facilities and the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind.

Prince, a judge in Colorado’s 4th Judicial District, said he and his colleagues are honored by the national recognition. “Judicially Speaking is a collaborative program made possible by 100-plus judges and educators who have dedicated their time and creativity to improving public education about what judges do. We greatly appreciate Justice O’Connor and NCSC honoring our efforts.”

This is the fifth year the O’Connor Award has been presented.