Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – America’s premier civics education honor for courts was presented this week to the Ohio Supreme Court at a conference of the nation’s chief justices and judicial administrators.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor accepted the 2021 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education on behalf of the Court and its Civic Education staff.

“I am always thrilled when our staff is recognized for their diligent work and achievements,” said Chief Justice O’Connor, who accepted the award at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The Ohio high court was honored for its wide range of civics education programs, including online courses for Ohio schools called Under Advisement: Ohio Supreme Court Cases on Demand.

Under Advisement was created by the Court’s two-person civic education staff – Manager Sara Stiffler and Coordinator Mason Farr – with the help of Court staff, including the Office of Public Information, of which Civic Ed is part.

“The two Ohio staff members who lead our Civic Education Section are young, and the people they are reaching are young,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “The power of youth and a passion for teaching others. Is there any other combination more important to our country today?”

A special committee of the NCSC bestows the honor each year and presents the award at the combined meeting of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators.

The Ohio Supreme Court’s civics education ventures also include its Visitor Education Center, Off-Site Court sessions at Ohio high schools, and many other programs.

In addition to the classroom materials, Stiffler and Farr performed virtual tours of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus during COVID to give students the next best thing to an in-person tour.

Under Advisement engages students in an in-depth study of already-decided Court cases, including video recordings of oral arguments and written documents on the Supreme Court’s online case docket.

Case previews, decision summaries, and guides for teachers and students are included in the three- to four-day course.

This was the 11th year that the NCSC has presented the award honoring the U.S. Supreme Court’s first female member, retired Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and her legendary commitment to improving civics education.