• Sunday, June 24, 2018

Teachers’ Law School – Another Big Success

This year’s Teachers’ Law School marked another year of significant success as 30 teachers from around the state of Texas applied to attend, were accepted, then gathered in Austin to hear some of the best speakers in the state.  It was held July 18-20.

It features the best and brightest members of the Texas bench and bar who live and work with the law and who share the practical realities of systems that protect all Americans. The program is designed for high school and middle school educators involved in teaching government, law classes and law magnet programs across the state.   Noted judges and attorneys will discuss Texas criminal and civil law procedures with participants.  Over a three-day period, these teachers took part in presentations and roundtables discussions.

The institute is sponsored by the TEX-ABOTA and the Texas Chapters of ABOTA, Law Focused Education, Inc. and the State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education department.

See a list of teachers who attended below.

We are very proud to have received this email from one of the teachers this year:

Sent: Friday, August 9, 2013 8:41 AM
Subject: Teachers Law School Y5 feedback

Good morning!  I wanted to send you all an update on how I’ve used the information for TLS Y5.  As I have been planning lessons for the “Celebrate Freedom Week” coming up in a few weeks, I realize how so many of the presentations and topics and how much of the content discussed is ripe for this content week!  These are just a quick, finalized snapshot of what I have ready.

On Tuesday of that week, I plan on using the exact same case studies and lessons presented to us during the liability/responsibility exercises and following up with my students with the same type of  Socratic method discussion.  I know they are going to love these!

On Thursday, I plan on using the Guantanamo presentation to discuss overarching themes of physical liberty, right to due process, encroaching governmental monitoring and enforcement of shifting norms of acceptable social behavior/speech, open the floor to have my high school students express their differing views and may include a brief discussion on whether people like Snowden/Assaunge are rogues or heroes.  This will be interesting to see how they respond!

On Friday,  I plan on demonstrating and discussing the video/lesson on amnesty and death penalty and the video on the assault and have students be witnesses.  If I am unable to upload the video, I may do a scripted version and ask students to write a free response for how they witnessed the crime in their heads…..presenting the vast interpretations each students envisions in their heads and how that may impact how credible their statements are or who gets blamed for the crime.  Who knows where this will go!

(Monday is Declaration of Independence and BOR and Thursday is a school wide event)

Then, throughout the school year, I plan on making mention on court structure, women on the court, ALL THE AMAZING THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT UIL, SPORTS AND EQUALITY (!) and other equally amazing things, from tidbits to topics, we covered.

TLS is an amazing idea, thorough, well-rounded and fun.  Very rarely does a training capture a teacher’s intelligence and education levels, huge heart, limited budget and make us laugh.  Most trainings, we need caffeine just to get through them.  Not TLS!  I am so thankful to David Halpern, Linda Deleon, Jan Miller, all of you, and those whom I don’t even know who worked on TLS to make it happen.  My heartfelt wish is that this program continues on into the future and that ABOTA and Tex-ABOTA continue to fund a program that makes such an impact on so many students across the state, especially those like my district and school who are 76% minority and 80% economically disadvantaged and need the best trained teachers to help them overcome depressing odds.

Again, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.  I will try to keep you all abreast of additional lesson plans or moments in class where I have dropped a knowledge bomb on my kids thanks to TLS.


Samantha Trimble


Nearly 30 Texas educators have been selected to attend the Fifth Annual Teachers’ Law School, a three-day legal education program July 18-20 at the Texas Law Center in Austin.

Social studies and government teachers from across Texas applied to the program, which brings together more than a dozen of the state’s leading judges and lawyers who give presentations on aspects of civil and criminal legal systems at the state and federal levels.

Participating educators were:

Carol Anderson of El Paso, a 17-year teacher at Silva Health Magnet High School
Roger Azevedo of Plano, an 11-year teacher at Prestonwood Christian Academy
Andre Berry of Houston, a 12-year teacher at Alief Elsik High School
Randy Bilyeu of McKinney, a 14-year teacher at McKinney Boyd High School
Michael Buck of Arlington, a 17-year teacher at North Crowley High School in Fort Worth
Angela Buentello of Cedar Park, a 10-year teacher at Canyon Vista Middle School in Austin
Britine Burton of Arlington, a 15-year teacher at South Grand Prairie High School
Pepper Cruson of Hickory Creek, a 27-year teacher at Hebron High School in Carrollton
Michael J. Gortz of Lewisville, an 18-year teacher at Shadow Ridge Middle School in Flower Mound
Luana Hanley of Corinth, a 15-year teacher at Marcus High School in Flower Mound
Jenny Hutchinson-Gonzalez of San Antonio, a 26-year teacher at Burbank High School
Margaret Irwin of San Antonio, a 23-year teacher at John Paul Stevens High School
Christina Johnson of San Antonio, a six-year teacher at Tom C. Clark High School
Lisa Lopez of Houston, a 17-year teacher at Alief Elsik High School
Beverly Mathis of Helotes, a 29-year teacher at William H. Taft High School
Kevin McCune of Richmond, a 23-year teacher at Lamar CISD
Kristin Pershey of Garland, a seven-year teacher at Austin Academy for Excellence
Andrea Pirtle of Conroe, a 14-year teacher at Oak Ridge High School
Craig Rabalais of Mansfield, a 16-year teacher at Mansfield Legacy High School
Jessica Rader of North Richland Hills, a first-year teacher at Trinity High School in Euless
Roger Rodgers of Coppell, a 13-year teacher at Trinity High School in Euless
Rebecca Rowland of Claude, a 13-year teacher at Claude High School—Cissy Smith of Corpus Christi, a 12-year teacher at Baker Middle School
Mary Stimson of Friendswood, a 23-year teacher at Alvin High School
lain —Kristin Tamayo of Cedar Park, a 12-year teacher at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville
Samantha Trimble of Arlington, an eight-year teacher at Lake Ridge High School in Mansfield
Pamela Tutt of Denton, a 10-year teacher at Lowery Freshman Center in Allen
Margaret Watson of Colleyville, a 32-year teacher at Trinity High School in Euless
Demetria Westmoreland of Houston, a seven-year teacher at Shotwell Academy

Also known as TLS-Y5, the Teachers’ Law School-Year Five was piloted in Austin in 2009 and has become a national model for similar programs across the United States. TLS-Y5 faculty includes U.S. Appeals Court Judge Edward Prado, Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, and nationally recognized defense attorney Gerald Goldstein. Past presenters include Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, and legendary criminal defense attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes.

The program comes at no cost to the teachers. Food, lodging and travel are funded through scholarship donations from the American Board of Trial Advocates-Texas (TEX-ABOTA) and its Texas affiliates and the ABOTA Foundation.

“Texas is proud to be the birthplace for the Teachers’ Law School,” said Mary Dietz, president of TEX-ABOTA. “TLS has become one of ABOTA’s leading civics education programs and is now a model for our chapters around the country.”

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