Janelle Edmonds

Janelle Edmonds is a self-proclaimed Supreme Court junkie, taking in amicus briefs and court decisions like most take in music. 

Edmonds, who’s taught social studies courses at Marana High School for 14 years, will get to fulfill a lifelong dream of learning the ins and outs of the nation’s highest court. 

The Marana native was one of 60 teachers nationwide named to this year’s Supreme Court Summer Institute this June.

The Institute, which is sponsored by Georgetown University’s Law School, offers teachers the opportunity to study Supreme Court cases in detail, cramming hundreds of year’s worth of history into five days. 

Edmonds and other participants will get the chance to interact with the who’s who of Supreme Court lawyers, journalists and educators. 

They’ll also get the chance to visit the court and attend a reception in honor of the educators’ contributions to their respective schools. 

Edmonds is thrilled to have the opportunity to see the inner workings of the court, seeing a view of one of the nation’s most secretive institutions. 

“This is definitely something that I love. I love thinking about the role of the court in the US political system and the idea that I get to go there,” Edmonds said. “And I get to go to a reception held in our honor; that I get to spend really six days delving into information about the court that isn’t well known.”

Edmonds path to the nation’s capital began earlier this year when a colleague recommended she apply for the yearly institute. 

She received resounding encouragement from MHS Principal David Mandel, who wrote her a letter of recommendation.  Mandel’s decision to support Edmonds’ quest was an easy one, given her impressive knowledge of the court’s history. 

Mandel said Edmonds, who serves as the social studies department chair, has the support of her fellow teachers and is sure to represent MHS well on a national stage. 

“Mrs. Edmonds’ contributions to our school go far beyond the classroom,” wrote Mandel. “She is a talented teacher who is passionate about the subject that she teaches. As such, choosing her for this unique learning experience is like sending her to the Super Bowl.  She plans to bring back her learning to MHS and continue to make our curriculum robust, relevant and rigorous for students.”

Edmonds is thrilled to take part in the institute, which has brought more than 1,200 teachers to Washington D.C. since its inception in 1995. 

She’s thrilled to be in town when the Supreme Court releases three of its decisions in June, allowing her to see their impact up close and personal. 

“We get to go watch decisions come down, so instead of sitting on my couch scrolling the Internet I get to be there when the decisions are coming down,” she said. “Then we get to go discuss it with lawyers like what was just decided. What does this precedent means? Why do we care about this? That’s awesome.”

The University of Arizona alum and former independent radio deejay is thrilled to have the chance to chat with Supreme Court reporters from National Public Radio and other outlets.

“I’m probably most excited about that,” she said. “Having worked in radio, the media part, it’s really interesting to me.”

Teaching social studies has been a lifelong love for Edmonds, mostly due to its real-life impact on students. 

“Teaching government is one of the most important things that we can do as teachers,” she said. “I taught world history for 10 years and I loved it. I thought I would be a world history teacher forever and then I stepped into government because they needed a government teacher and discovered how applicable this is to kids’ lives.” 

For Edmonds, the ability to bring events occurring outside the agrarian outpost of Marana to her students, and to relate what’s happening to their daily lives is what keeps her enthralled. 

“We see how current events influence what’s going on in kids’ lives,” she said. “And kids get really excited about that. Students really connect with it when they can make those real-world applications.” 

Edmonds said the key to her life’s work is in making the blasé details of government and judicial systems come to life for her students.  She knows how vitally important it is for them to understand the court’s decisions, so they can grasp how each impacts their livelihood. 

“I don’t care how they vote, but I want them to vote, whether I’m teaching AP students or I’m teaching regular run-of-the-mill students or special education students,” she said. “All of our students can be interested in this. And so, if I can bring stuff that a lot of people think is boring and I can make it come alive for the kids, that’s what I want to do.”

Read this story and more online at tucsonlocalmedia.com.

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