State Bar of Texas Blog
State Bar educational initiative launched in classrooms
As students across the state returned to the classrooms to kick off a new school year this August, the opportunity for attorneys to host a session of the State Bar of Texas project “I was the first. Vote for Me!” also began.
In Williamson County, Lisa Richardson joined forces with Wendi Lester-Boyd and Stacey Mathews, both fellow Williamson County attorneys, and Mya Mercer, principal of Old Town Elementary, to bring the program—and the importance of Celebrate Freedom Week and Constitution Day—to more than 400 first through fifth grade students. Pictured from left to right: Lisa Richardson, Richardson & Cechura, PLLC in Round Rock; Mya Mercer, Principal of Old Town Elementary, Round Rock ISD; Wendi Lester-Boyd, Wendi Lester and Associates, PC
“I would love to be able to get this [project] into all the Williamson County schools,” said Richardson. “It’s an educational project that’s well-thought-out.”
Launched in July and inspired by Lisa Tatum’s election as the first African-American State Bar of Texas president, “I was the first. Vote for Me!” is a multimedia project that works to inform students about a series of historic leaders who were firsts, from Susan B. Anthony and Sam Houston to Cesar Chavez and Barack Obama. After students are introduced to each character by way of a colorful animation, they cast a vote for the “first” they believe a fictional school should be named for. The project incorporates lessons in reading, math, citizenship, and voting and aligns with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards for elementary students.
While leading her session, Richardson observed that the project’s way of delivering information about the Constitution and its founders was both educational and enjoyable, and students appeared to agree.
“It was fun to have these fifth graders really start talking about all of these people,” said Richardson. “It seemed to start making sense as to who some of these people were and why this document was written. So it was hands-on for them.”
And that’s exactly why the program was developed. Jan Miller, director of State Bar of Texas Law Related Education, said that “I was the first. Vote for Me!” was designed to get students engaged and interested in the history and the importance of the figures.
While Richardson’s group used the Celebrate Freedom Week materials, “I was the first. Vote for Me!” can be adapted for a variety of celebrations and recognitions, including Veterans Day, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Law Day.
Richardson added that having attorneys lead the sessions was also great exposure to the field of law and an opportunity for students to ask about the profession.
If you are open to leading a classroom session, or know of students who would benefit from a presentation in their class, go to texasbar.com/iwasthefirst to learn more.