You are here

MDNC Virtual Civics Initiative

Welcome to the MDNC Virtual Civics Initiative!

Why virtual?

As teachers continue educating students during the pandemic, the Middle District of North Carolina remains dedicated to serving as an educational resource.  To do that safely, we are now offering live 50-minute programs over videoconferencing.

What is the MDNC Virtual Civics Initiative?

Although we cannot meet each other in person at our courthouses and schools, the goals of our virtual civics initiative remain the same as those of our traditional in-person initiative – to provide an opportunity for middle and high school students to broaden and deepen their understanding of the roles of the federal judiciary and the Constitution in their lives and communities.

What programs are offered?

We are offering the following live 50-minute programs over videoconferencing:

  • The Rule of Law and an Independent Judiciary – Why Do They Matter to You?:  A federal judge leads students in a discussion about the rule of law and an independent judiciary and the impact of those principles on students’ lives and communities.  A sample agenda for this program is available here.
  • The Separation of Powers and an Independent Judiciary – Why Do They Matter to You?:  A federal judge leads students in a discussion about the separation of powers and an independent judiciary and the impact of those principles on students’ lives and communities.  A sample agenda for this program is available here.
  • Let’s Talk with the Judge!  A Comparison of State and Federal Courts:  Students talk with a federal judge who has also served as a North Carolina state judge about the similarities and differences between the two court systems.  Topics range from the steps to becoming a judge to the types of cases each court hears.  A sample agenda for this program is available here.
  • A School Search and Civil Discourse:  Lessons from the Courtroom:  A federal judge begins the program by leading the students in a discussion about civil discourse.  Students then apply that concept to the courtroom as they work with a criminal defense attorney and prosecutor to study a fictional scenario involving the search of a student at a public school.  Attorneys will help students prepare an argument to present to the judge about the constitutionality of the search.  A sample agenda for this program is available here.

How can schools participate?

Chief Judge Thomas D. Schroeder, Laura Dildine (career law clerk to Judge N. Carlton Tilley, Jr.), and Leah Garland (deputy clerk) manage the Civics Initiative.  Please contact Laura Dildine at ncmd_civics@ncmd.uscourts.gov for more information and to schedule a virtual program. 

Who can participate?

We welcome any schools throughout the Middle District of North Carolina.  The programs are designed for middle and high school students who have a basic knowledge of the Bill of Rights.

How many students can participate?

These interactive 50-minute virtual programs are best suited for approximately 30 students or less.

What does it cost to participate?

The court does not charge a school to participate in the Civics Initiative.  

How did the Civics Initiative start?

In March 2017, our court launched its Civics Initiative as part of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts' nationwide civics outreach program for middle and high school students.  Since then, we have worked with over 1,300 students from elementary, middle, high, and law schools in the Middle District of North Carolina.