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Making Civics Real Workshop 7: Controversial Public Policy Issues  
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Workshop 7

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Teacher Perspectives
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Teacher Perspectives: Her legal education

JoEllen Ambrose: I had the teacher dilemma that comes shortly into one’s career. The financial incentives are definitely there when one has a graduate degree so I needed to look at what kind of a graduate degree I would want and how I would make that fit into teaching government. I loved what I was doing, and I thought I could pursue social studies education as a master’s [student]. Then I thought, “What if I pursued law school?” There were a few years where I would teach all day and take law school classes at night three, four times a week. Then I’d study all weekend, and then I would get ready to teach. It was four and a half years. I found myself not really ready to jump out of education, [but] I finished. I got that degree.

I had a chance to leave teaching for a couple years on a leave. I did some work developing curriculum in law-related education, which was a perfect cup of tea, a great match. Organizations like Street Law and the Center for Civic Education and the Constitutional Rights Foundation do wonderful curriculum work with law as a component. The circumstances changed [and] I had an opportunity to come back into the classroom [at] a brand-new high school where I could have a strong part in developing the curriculum. Being here and developing the law course and the government course has been a really great blend of the content I learned in law school with the passion that I have for teaching.

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