Minnesota Supreme Court Justice to visit MHS in March
Monticello School District is excited to welcome Anne K. McKeig, Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court, to Monticello High School on March 18th. McKeig, the first American Indian to sit on any state’s highest court, will speak to 11th and 12th graders about her life experiences and the idea that any and all opportunities are attainable.
The opportunity to bring McKeig to Monticello arose through Monticello’s new partnership with the American Indian Education Aid Program through the Minnesota Department of Education. ISD 882 was approved for funding through the program this year, as soon as the Native American population reached the threshold required by MDE to request funding. Part of the grant expectations included creating an American Indian Parent Advisory Committee in the district, as well as a similar student committee. These committees have been hard at work this year coming up with opportunities for both Native American students and the general student population, and using the funds from MDE to help bring them to life.
In addition to her talk with upperclassmen at the high school, Justice McKeig will also sit down for lunch with Monticello students and parents with an American Indian background, opening up the door for more personal conversations.
Sarah Welk, District/Community Social Worker, facilitates the student advisory committee. Welk happened to attend the same high school that McKeig graduated from, and leaped at the opportunity to bring her to Monticello to share her story.
“As the first Native American State Supreme Court Justice, she’s a perfect example of overcoming challenges and barriers and surrounding yourself with people that continue to push you,” said Welk.
Lori Hanson, Dean of Students at Monticello Middle School and leader of the American Indian Parent Advisory Committee, added that there will be great benefit for students from the social studies aspect as well.
“I don’t think a lot of kids really understand what a supreme court justice is, or if they get how impressive that is,” said Hanson. “But the perseverance and persistence it took for her to get there, that’s definitely the real message to kids.”
McKeig, a descendant of the White Earth Nation, served as Presiding Judge in Family Court in Minneapolis before serving as a District Court Judge, and subsequently being appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court on June 28, 2016. She currently teaches at St. Thomas School of Law as an Adjunct Professor, and has spoken at numerous national conferences and conventions. McKeig’s bio also lists her as a proud mother of five, and a Johnny Cash super fan.
In addition to bringing in Justice McKeig, the American Indian Education Plan has created several other opportunities in ISD 882 this year, including: the addition of diverse curriculum and resources in grades K-8; professional development opportunities for sixth grade social studies teachers, a Jingle Dress Lyceum for second grade, an Ojibwe Shoulder Bag project for third grade art students, and an upcoming Augsburg College Visit for high school students.
This program and all of the opportunities that come with it aim to make the educational experience a more well-rounded and equitable one for all Monticello students.
“This is about creating opportunities for Native American students but also expanding diverse opportunities for every student,” said Hanson.