Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Urges Educators to Enliven Civics Education so Students Can Understand How Government Works

In Exclusive Interview as Part of Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, O’Connor Also Describes Challenges She Faced Early in Her Legal Career
Oct 13, 2011 12:00 PM ET

To bring even more resources to educators, the Verizon Foundation has launched the Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, on which Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will be the first guest. The Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series ( is an online series that will bring some of the most inspiring voices in education to educators and parents. The speaker series will launch on September 27 with the availability of O’Connor’s video interview.  

Press Release

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) Basking Ridge, NJ – October 13, 2011  Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is urging educators across the country to enliven civics education and engage students in the democratic process.

“You have to study [civics] and be taught how our system of government works,” Justice O’Connor said in an exclusive interview, which is only available in the Verizon Thinkfinity Community section of the Verizon Thinkfinity website.   “And you have to be shown how each individual can be part of it and can make things work.” 

Justice O’Connor’s interview is the first installment of the Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, an online series that will enable educators and parents to connect with some of the most inspiring voices in education.   

During her interview, O’Connor also discusses her greatest challenges, the sacrifices she made to get a start in the legal profession, and the lessons she learned from these experiences.

“I called every telephone number on the bulletin board at Stanford Law School,” Justice O’Connor said. “Not one of them would give me an interview. I was a woman. They wouldn't interview women. They wouldn't hire women.” 

After 25 years on the nation’s highest court, Justice O’Connor founded iCivics, an educational nonprofit that uses interactive games and other free resources to teach students about their rights and responsibilities as citizens and to understand the workings of government and civil society.

The iCivics interactive games, lesson plans, as well as the iCivics Impact Challenge sponsored by the Verizon Foundation starting on Oct. 3 are available on Verizon Thinkfinity, the interactive educational platform that provides tens of thousands of free resources for use in and out of the classroom. 

“We are honored to have Justice O’Connor launch the speaker series, and know that Verizon Thinkfinity Community members will value her passion for education and the wisdom that comes with being the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Al Browne, national director and vice president – education and technology, Verizon Foundation. “Through the speaker series, we hope to provide educators inspiration but also practical ideas to implement in their classrooms to engage students in civics, economics, science, technology and social media.”

The Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series is available exclusively to members of the Thinkfinity Community, a virtual home to engaging, thoughtful dialogue on some of today’s most challenging classroom issues. 

Future Speaker Series installments feature exclusive video interviews with:

  • Dr. Ben Carson, Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center –  Oct. 18

  • Earvin “Magic” Johnson, NBA legend, chairman & CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, and philanthropist – Nov 1

  • Dr. Chris Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies,  Harvard’s Graduate School of Education – Nov. 15

  • Jason Falls, educator and social media expert – Dec. 6

Anyone can join the Thinkfinity Community for free at

About the Verizon Foundation

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. For more information on the foundation, visit


Ellen Yu
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