State Bar of Texas education project wins national award

A State Bar of Texas project educating elementary students on important firsts in U.S. and Texas history has been awarded a National Association of Bar Executives LexisNexis Community and Educational Outreach Award. The award honors outstanding bar public service and law-related education programs.

 

The State Bar of Texas’s I was the First. Vote for Me! project was unanimously selected in the category of state bars with more than 18,000 members and was commended for incorporating history, reading, math, and voting into one program.

I was the First. Vote for Me!, an initiative of 2013-2014 State Bar of Texas President Lisa Tatum of San Antonio, is an interactive program educating elementary students about important figures in U.S. and Texas history included in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards.

Through 30-second animations, nearly two dozen historic figures share their significance while their words are displayed “karaoke style” across the bottom of the screen. After viewing the animations, students can vote on their favorite animation and view the results in a graph.

In addition to the web-based materials, a book is available in hard copy and e-reader. Both the website and book are prepared in English and Spanish.

 

State Bar President Lisa Tatum to receive civics award

State Bar of Texas President Lisa Tatum will be honored for her work in promoting civics during the seventh annual Women That Soar awards ceremony, event organizers announced. 

Tatum, the owner of LM Tatum PLLC in San Antonio, will receive the 2014 Civic Award from Women That Soar, a media and content development company that produces inspiring information and events for women. The awards honor extraordinary women in the fields of entertainment, sports, business, fashion, arts, philanthropy, media, and civics.

A televised awards ceremony will take place Nov. 8 in Dallas.

Tatum is receiving the Civic Award for her many professional and personal contributions, event organizers said.

Committed to investing in and empowering her community, Tatum is an alumna of Leadership San Antonio, Class XXIX, and a member of local chambers and the Greater San Antonio YMCA Board of Directors. She has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio and currently serves as a member of several bar associations and the Rotary Club of San Antonio.

As 2013-2014 State Bar president, Tatum has helped introduce the civics education project I was the first. Vote for Me! to attorneys, teachers, and students across Texas.

The project uses short, animated films to teach elementary school students about some of the historic firsts who are part of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards. With help from the State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education Department, the project has been introduced to more than 4,778 teachers at 119 seminars, reaching more than 196,000 students.

The award is one of many Tatum has received for her work as an attorney and bar leader. She was recently named to the Lawyers of Color 2014 Power List, which honors the country’s most influential minority attorneys.

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.