Speeches

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Civic Education Volunteers Appreciation Luncheon
Oct. 23, 2018

(Remarks prepared for delivery on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center.)

Thank you, Stephanie, for the introduction, and thanks to you, Sara (Stiffler), for organizing this event.

I also wanted to thank the newest member of the civic education family — Mason Farr.

Mason comes to us from the Pentagon where he was the curator of historical art and artifacts for the U.S. Army’s historical collection in the building.

Today is a special day because we are here to recognize you – the dedicated volunteers who share your time and knowledge with the thousands of visitors to the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center each year.

Your knowledge and enthusiasm are appreciated throughout this building by the staff and the justices.

Those of us who work here are so proud of what you do.

Our pride in you is reinforced whenever we encounter a tour in progress – or when we receive letters from visitors about their experiences here.

You help the Supreme Court of Ohio fulfill a very important mission – to increase the public’s knowledge of the role and responsibilities of the judicial branch of government.

Many worthwhile organizations have volunteer opportunities available – so, we appreciate your decision to spend your volunteer time helping shine a light on Ohio’s court system and the judicial branch.

We’re gathering here to acknowledge 17 of you.

Thirteen (13) have tenures stretching from one to 13 years.

Sara told me that your all-volunteer meeting today includes information about new civic education resources and programs that she and Mason have been working on recently, along with:

Opportunities to share best practices and tour tips with one another

Information on Ohio’s social studies learning standards

Presentation and engagements skills with students

Viewing and reviewing the updated “Day in the Life” video in the Visitor Education Center that explains the process of how a case gets to the Supreme Court, what it’s like when court is in session, and how cases are decided.

Finally, you’ll be learning about a new elementary mock trial that focuses on the timely topic of bullying based on the book “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio.

I enjoy reviewing the data – the numbers – that reflect your work.

For calendar year 2018, guides volunteered more than 500 hours – leading tours of the building and the Visitor Education Center.

During the 2017-18 school year, which ended in May, volunteers helped to lead 288 tours for 12,479 visitors.

One of the most rewarding things for me to do is to read the survey comments from teachers whose classes toured the building.

Here are some excerpts this past school year. There are so many, I had to just pick a few.

“We really, really appreciate the volunteers and we love coming to both the Ohio Supreme Court and the Statehouse. We love coming in May because our students are able to make so many connections to what they have learned this year. Our students get extremely excited and always want to take their families back. Thank you for the wonderful program and tour!”

“It was an excellent field trip and very rewarding for students. Our guides were very knowledgeable, professional, and engaging.  We want to thank them for their time.”

“The guides were very knowledgeable and were eager to give us lots of historical background as well as answer all the students’ questions. It was a very worthwhile experience!”

“Our tour guides were so kind, professional, and very knowledgeable about the court system and history.”

That was just a sampling of the feedback we received.

So, thank you all again.

Now I would like to take this opportunity to recognize all of you who are here today. When I call your name, please stand or wave to be recognized.

Our longest-serving guide who’s been a part of this program since 2005, Toba Feldman.

From 2011: Dan Bennington and David Binkovitz

2012: Paul Braunsdorf and Catherine Stroup

2013: Susan Voorhees-Murphy and Patricia Davidson

2015: Marty Lighttiser, Karen Saffle, and Phil Smith

From 2016: Elise Porter

From 2017: Galen Graham and Kate Graham

And now, for the four new volunteers in 2018, I would like to present you each with a special volunteer pin to wear during your tours.

This pin depicting our unique building is a special way we honor you for your time and dedication.

I will call your names. Please come up to the front and Sara will hand you your pin.

Rosemary Kubera Goodburn ... Marilyn Goodman ... Tim King, who unfortunately can’t be with us today, and Tom Holliday

Have a great meeting this afternoon.

Thanks to everyone – and here’s to another successful tour season!

May God Bless.