President Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland to be a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. But here’s something we bet you don’t know about the judge: He’s a tutor.
Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, has tutored at J.O. Wilson Elementary School for 18 years. J.O. Wilson is a public school in northeast Washington, D.C., according to a story that ran on station WUSA in Washington.
“He’s been coming every other week for 18 years,” said Heidi Haggerty, the principal at J.O. Wilson. “He doesn’t just tutor somebody for a year. When he takes on a student, he follows them for many years.”
Currently, Judge Garland is tutoring a fifth grader named Vernell G. They started working together when Vernell was in first grade. “He really helps me with my homework,” Vernell said. “He’s a great tutor and he inspires me a lot. He inspires me to become a judge.”
Judge Garland helps other students, too. “When we have hard homework and we don’t understand it, he helps us. Like algebra,” said Jenifer M-G., another fifth grader.
He’s even hosted them on field trips to his federal courthouse. “We saw him in his court suit and he had a little thing that he beats on to say order in the court,” Vernell said.
The school — a largely African-American elementary school in the D.C. public school system — has a partnership with the D.C. Court of Appeals, according to a story in the Washington Post. Four groups of lawyers tutor students each month, but no volunteer is as consistent as Judge Garland, according to school staff.
Judge Garland also makes sure that his law clerks volunteer at J.O. Wilson. “He tells them it’s not just about helping kids, it will also make each of them a better person,” the WUSA story says. Judge Garland also intends to follow his students and keep tutoring Vernell when she transfers to middle school.
So whatever happens to his nomination, it sounds like one thing won’t stop: Judge Garland will keep tutoring. Watch Judge Garland talk about his tutoring experiences in this White House video.