Teacher: Mackenzie DeLong, McNary High School (Keizer)
Subject: Grades 9-12 Social Studies and English; Mock Trial Coach
Experience: 2 years, both at McNary
Although new to teaching, Mackenzie has already been involved in a wide variety of Civics Learning Project programs: Summer Institute, Oregon Civics Conference, and the Abby Cohort Program. This year, she started a new Mock Trial team at her school! We’re so grateful to Mackenzie for sharing her experience as a first-year teacher coach.
In her own words:
“After so many positive experiences using Civics Learning Project materials in my classroom, I decided to start a Mock Trial team at McNary to give my students more opportunities to have an authentic, rigorous experience with trial advocacy. I noticed that a lot of kids in my classroom seemed to really get into the mock trials we did in class, and there was student interest in participating in a more competitive setting — so we went for it!
To another teacher interested in starting a team, I would say you should absolutely do it. If you are concerned that you don’t have enough expertise in law to run it, I get that. The cool thing about Mock Trial is that a teacher coach pairs with an attorney coach to provide that kind of support to the kids. I was fortunate to work with a phenomenal local Keizer attorney, Neal Peton, and the students benefited immensely from his help throughout the season. There is also support from Civics Learning Project, and a lot of people who are waiting in the wings to answer any questions and lend a hand. The first year can be intimidating, but if you work to get your team to that first regional tournament, that will be the best learning experience to build on. My students, my attorney coach, and myself all left the regionals tournament with a very clear idea of how we want to prepare better for next year, so I am glad we powered through even though there were some unknowns.
I have to confess that I got a little emotional watching my students introduce themselves at the beginning of our first round at regionals. When we began preparing, they didn’t even really know what an opening statement or cross examination was, and here they were, doing it!”