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Patton’s visit with a Congresswoman

February 25, 2016

Arlington Heights, IL - Patton Elementary fifth-grade teacher Tim Mokert brought two of his students down to the office immediately after morning announcements on Tuesday, and the students were psyched to be there.

They were not in trouble, nor were they going to get in trouble. In fact, they were there fifteen minutes early, anxiously awaiting the arrival of their guest speaker, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

Schakowsky had a scheduled visit with Patton’s entire fifth grade class to help them better understand the unit they were studying.

“We study branches of government in the fifth grade,” Mokert said, “so I reached out to our Representative Schakowsky thinking she would be able to Skype with us. We were so thrilled to find out she was happy to come visit us in person.”

After Mr. Mokert introduced Schakowsky, it was her show, and she was able to engage the students immediately.

“Can you guess how many Representatives there are in our country?” Schakowsky asked the fifth graders as hands shot up all over Patton’s commons. “There are four hundred and thirty five which means each one represents about 700,000 people.”

After the students took in a bit more background about the interworking of the U.S. Government, and about Schakowsky’s friendly relationship with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, it was their turn to talk, and they were very ready to do so.

The crowd fired question after question, each student anxiously waiting their turn.

“What obstacles do you have to face while doing your job?” one student asked.

“Why are you so intrigued to win affordable and quality healthcare for all Americans?” another questioned.

“Why did you join the Congressional Progressive Caucus?” another curious student asked.

Schakowsky, impressed by the students’ thoroughness, answered each question patiently and genuinely.

“Not only are the students learning,” Mokert said, “but I am as well.”

Schakowsky closed out the visit with a mock debate. She threw out a topic and selected three students to represent each side of the debate. Schakowsky acted as the Speaker of the House as students went back and forth over the question, should girls and boys be allowed to play on the same teams in all professional sports?

“This is how we would do it in Washington D.C.,” Schakowsky said. “One side voices their opinion and then the other side gets a turn, all moderated by the Speaker of the House.”

The students in the audience applauded answers to show support as the mock debate continued and concluded.

“Today is great because it brings our unit to life,” Mokert said. “The students were able to take advantage of a great opportunity to see that these are real people working in the government.”

Adam Harris