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Sandra Day O'Connor Opens Thinkfinity Speaker Series

by Employee Emeritus ‎09-26-2011 11:54 AM - edited ‎09-26-2011 02:51 PM

Mike Koren - National Social Studies Teacher of the YearOur guest blogger today is Michael Koren, the 2010 National Middle School Social Studies Teacher of the Year.


Michael Koren interviewed Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, for the launch of the Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, the online series that will bring some of the most inspiring voices in education to teachers and parents.  The speaker series will launch on September 27, with the availability of O’Connor’s video interview. 




When I first was asked to interview Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, I immediately said “yes.”  After all, how often do opportunities arise to do something on a scale and magnitude as large as this?  Thus, off to Philadelphia I went to capture the first interview for the Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, which is produced by the Verizon Foundation.


As I interviewed the Justice, I was impressed with her passion for Civics education.  We face a serious issue in our country as Social Studies education is being pushed into a second-class status. To address this trend, the Justice developed iCivics, an online education program that teaches students civics and encourages them to learn about their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and to understand the workings of the U.S. government.  I learned that through her partnership with Verizon Foundation, iCivics’ interactive games are now available on Verizon Thinkfinity


I will share two important lessons with my own students about this experience. 


The Justice is a living example for students striving to reach their goals.  She had to overcome many obstacles, and she worked very hard to be successful.  She shared that when she faced setbacks, it made her more determined to succeed instead of hanging her head.  The Justice could very easily have held grudges, but she didn’t, and instead used the setbacks and barriers to increase her motivation for success. 


The Justice is also humble, gracious and engaging.  Staying humble and not acting like you are something special because of your success is a very important characteristic.  I believe Justice O’Connor has shown us how to do this with her life. 


I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I felt blessed and thankful to have been given this opportunity to interview the Justice O’Connor for the Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series.

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About the Authors

Rose Kirk

V.P. of Global Corporate Citizenship and President of the Verizon Foundation

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Rose leads Verizon's global corporate responsibility initiatives and philanthropic strategy, which focuses on applying Verizon's technology to improve education, healthcare and energy management.

James Gowen

Chief Sustainability Officer/
V.P. of Services Operations

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James oversees Verizon’s supply chain, vehicle fleet, investment recovery, purchasing and materials management and sustainability initiatives.

Jack McArtney

Director of Corporate and Community Responsibility

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Jack promotes digital wellness and online safety. He works with parents, educators, service providers, application developers and industry leaders to foster responsible use of Verizon's mobile and broadband networks.

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