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As a teacher at Redwood Middle School, I have experienced an extraordinary year with my students, thanks in large part to the time and efforts of community leaders.

Our 16-week unit on civics opened with an appearance from George Washington, who obligingly ran our reenactment of the Constitutional Convention.

This led to a study of the three branches and ended with a mock Supreme Court hearing led by Neil Bowman-Davis. “Chief Justice” Bowman-Davis in his spare time is the supervising attorney of the self-help service offered at the Napa courthouse.

Mr. Bowman-Davis has a been a tireless volunteer in planning and executing creative and innovative instruction, to include a trip to a Superior Court courtroom, where students engaged in bail arguments and received Certificates of Excellence in Jurisprudence from the Honorable Cynthia Smith.

Judge Smith couldn’t stay for the full duration, so we were fortunate to have Mrs. Debbie Cravea preside in her absence. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the courthouse approval from newly appointed CEO, Mr. Bob Freshman.

Our journey continued into the realm of propaganda. Students formed marketing firms and presented their propaganda to panels that included Mayor Jill Techel, Mr. Jason Scoggins and Mr. Chris Lene.

Mayor Techel’s thoughtful and positive feedback reinforced what teachers strive to promote daily professionalism thorough research and quality. Mr. Scoggins and Mr. Lene, both successful entrepreneurs, shared a real-world reaction to students’ work, which also emphasized being prepared and confident.

Finally, students met with Principal Maryanne Christoffersen, newly appointed Superintendent Rosanna Mucetti and Congressman Mike Thompson for a Q&A session. It was a powerful discussion that started with concerns regarding increased levels of stress and anxiety in students as it relates to homework and grades. This evolved into a conversation about the rising rates of teen suicide, gun violence on campus and the use of social media.

It has been amazing.

The students’ growth and maturity, their investment in the discussions and their work has been incredible. That said, the unit wouldn't have had a fourth of the impact had it not been for the adult leaders who stepped up to participate and make it exponentially more relevant and rewarding.

I would like to acknowledge the time and effort all of these people took from their busy professional and personal lives. They make this work so much more interesting and engaging, not just for the students, but for me as well. They have my deepest gratitude.

Stephanie Trott

Teacher – 8th Grade Social Science

Redwood Middle School

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