Judge Merrick Garland, who has been nominated by President-Elect Joe Biden to be the country’s next U.S. attorney general, has something he’s been doing besides sitting on the bench: Tutoring.
Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, is a long-time tutor at the J.O. Wilson Elementary School in Northeast Washington, D.C. He goes to the school every other Monday afternoon to tutor students there.
A quick call to his office confirmed that yes, Judge Garland is still tutoring, at least until the COVID-19 pandemic affected in-person tutoring, just like at Cluster. Biden mentioned Garland’s tutoring service when he introduced the judge as his attorney general nominee. Garland also requires the lawyers who clerk for him to become tutors.
When he was nominated to be a Supreme Court justice in 2016 — a nomination that the Republican-led Senate never bothered to take up — The Washington Post ran a story about his tutoring service.
“For me, this is about so much more than tutoring,” Charlene Wilburn, a teacher at J.O. Wilson, said in a statement the White House released to The Washington Post on Saturday afternoon. “It’s about our children having another adult in their lives who encourages them when they need it, supports them when they falter, and tells them to never give up on their dreams.
“I’ll tell you what I appreciate most about this man: He never asks for recognition, or fanfare. He just does what he committed to do,” Wilburn said in the statement. “He even convinced some of his staff to volunteer too, so now we have a whole group of volunteers that come down from his office to help.”
The Obama White House also produced this video about Merrick Garland as a tutor:
As he says in the video: “It’s an enormous thrill to see someone go from being a hesitant reader to a good reader.”
If Garland is confirmed by the Senate, it’s not clear if he’ll have time to continue his tutoring duties. But it might prove hard to give up something he’s done — and has so obviously loved — for so long.