One of the most enjoyable and personally rewarding experiences I have had this last year has been volunteering in the public schools. Our public schools play such an important role in educating and shaping our youth into productive future citizens and leaders.

Stow is part of the district I represent in Columbus, and since I wanted to deepen my connection there and demonstrate my support to the schools, I called Superintendent Russ Jones and offered to volunteer my Monday afternoons. I simply wanted to be helpful, whether it was helping in the cafeteria during lunch or tutoring students; I just wanted to serve.

Well, I heard back and (no surprise) they wanted me in the government class with the Stow seniors.

I was introduced to Mr. Tinkler, a senior government teacher at the Stow-Munroe Falls High School and thus began a journey of exploration, learning and friendship. Mr. Tinkler is an amazing teacher who connects with the students in an informal manner, yet commands their respect. He has them all engaged and values each as individuals with their own talents, opinions and perspectives.

Mr. Tinkler asked if I could share my experience as a legislator in Columbus. So for example, when the class was studying the legislative branch of government, I facilitated a role-playing exercise. We divided the class into two parts: half was the Ohio Senate and the other half was the Ohio House of Representatives. Mr. Tinkler, of course, played the role of the governor. We ran the class as if they were the General Assembly. I had the students propose and debate the merits of a bill, standing next to their desk just like we do in Columbus.

After the debate was exhausted, the students would vote. If there were enough affirmative votes, the issue would pass to the other half of the class to continue the discussion and then finally on to “Governor Tinkler” for his signature or veto. This exercise is one that was not only fun, but also engaged the students in the process through role play. They learned through this exercise how bills become law, and I am hopeful that it increased their understanding and appreciation for how this process works.

Together we also role-played the committee process. A third of the class was the “Education Committee,” a third was “proponents,” and a third was “opponents.” We discussed varying political views, campaigns and more.

The students in the Stow-Munroe Falls High School were a pleasure to work with. I look forward to Mondays knowing that I’ll be with these bright young people who are so passionate to learn. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend time in Mr. Tinkler’s government class at the high school; I went there to serve and left enriched.

As a final note: If you are a teacher and would like me to come into your class and facilitate a role-playing exercise of the General Assembly and work through how a bill becomes a law with your students, I would be delighted to do so, just contact my office at 614-466-1177.


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