2021 Sandra Day O'Connor Award


Lorri Montgomery
Communications Director
National Center for State Courts

Edward K. Miller
Director-Office of Public Information
Supreme Court of Ohio

Ohio Supreme Court’s Civic Education Program named 2021 Sandra Day O’Connor Award recipient

Williamsburg, Va. (May 4, 2021) – The Civic Education Program of the Ohio Supreme Court is the recipient of the 2021 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education, presented annually by the National Center for State Courts. The award honors an organization, court, program, or individual who has promoted, inspired, improved, or led an innovation or accomplishment in the field of civics education related to the justice system. This year’s award comes during the 40th anniversary of Justice O’Connor’s unanimous Senate confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981.

The Ohio program was selected for its multi-faceted approach to civics education, its longevity, its continued program expansion, and its ability to be replicated in other jurisdictions around the country, according to the selection committee of NCSC’s Board of Directors.

The Civic Education Program engages students and adults through on-site exhibits in the court’s Visitor Education Center through educational resources and lessons developed for teachers and students that are aligned with the Ohio Department of Education’s learning standards.

Mason Farr

Sarah Stiffler

“Each aspect of the program is researched, designed, and reviewed with the goal of having a meaningful impact on individuals’ understanding of our justice system,” Kate Strickland, executive director of the Ohio Center for Law Related Education, said in a nomination letter.

The program was also recognized for its ability to respond to and adapt to changes brought on by the pandemic. In her nomination letter, Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor credited the two-person civic education staff – Manager Sara Stiffler and Coordinator Mason Farr – with taking the program to “new heights this past year in creating breakthrough classroom materials. When COVID-19 closed our building for court sessions and tours, Ms. Stiffler and Mr. Farr accelerated their offerings. They increased their work on new remote curricula and educational videos and switched from in-person to remote tours for school children learning remotely at home.”

This is the 11th year NCSC has presented the O'Connor Award, in honor of her legendary commitment to improving civics education. After retiring from the bench in 2006, Justice O'Connor became a tireless advocate of civics education, working to increase awareness and understanding of how our government works. She established iCivics, a program that uses Web-based educational tools to teach civics education and to inspire students to be active participants in society.

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.