Eight Missouri lawyers named 2016 Solomon Civic Virtue awardees

The Missouri Bar Advisory Committee on Citizenship Education recognized eight lawyers for their outstanding contributions to civic education during the Missouri “We the People” and the Constitution state finals held Monday, Jan. 25, in Jefferson City. Stephen Davis, of Arent Fox LLP in Clayton; Doug Hickel, of Summers Compton Wells LLC in St. Louis; Jason Paulsmeyer, of the Public School and Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri in Jefferson City; Ron Prichard, of the Law Offices of Daniel P. Hanson in Overland Park, Kansas; Jason Rew, of Oswald Roam Rew & Fry LLC in Blue Springs; Jeff Russell, of Employers Reassurance Corp. in Overland Park, Kansas; Sander Sowers, of Lear Werts LLP in Columbia; and Michael Williams, of Williams Dirks Dameron LLC in Kansas City; each received the Warren H. Solomon Civic Virtue Award for their exemplary service to the “We the People” program.

Since 2001, The Missouri Bar Advisory Committee for Citizenship Education has annually presented the award to individuals who exemplify civic virtue and who have promoted civic virtue among Missouri’s teachers and students. Millie Aulbur, director of Citizenship Education for The Missouri Bar, said the honorees deserved the award for their long-term dedication to the program.

“These eight lawyers serve as judges for our state competition and they come prepared and committed to spending all day with the students,” Aulbur said. “I can depend on them in so many ways, including being a credit to the law profession. They validate the students’ and teachers’ hard work by challenging the competitors and by complimenting their efforts.”

Aulbur noted Hickel, Russell and Sowers also have served as judges at the national level and added that all eight lawyers initially were involved with the “We the People” program as members of the state bar’s Young Lawyers’ Section, which supports the program both financially and through volunteer hours. She applauded those who were no longer members of the Young Lawyers’ Section but continued to stay involved with the program.

When presented with the awards, several of the judges said they were surprised and humbled.

“It’s very much an honor and certainly something that was unexpected,” Russell said. “I don’t do this for honors like that; I do this because I enjoy it so much and I would not want to miss it.”

Hickel agreed.

“It’s a privilege. Hearing some of the names that have also won the award makes you feel pretty good, but I would come back every year without needing any sort of recognition,” Hickel said. “Hearing the students and seeing all the work that they put in – that’s reward enough.”

The judges also stressed the importance of the “We the People” program as a unique learning opportunity for youth.

“Civics education should always be a major focus of the bar and I think ‘We the People’ is an excellent example of that,” Paulsmeyer said. “It provides a great opportunity for the students that participate around the state to be able to understand civics and the Constitution in a venue different than sitting in the classroom and reading it out of a textbook.”

The Dr. Warren H. Solomon Award was named for Dr. Warren H. Solomon, a social studies curriculum specialist with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for more than 25 years who worked tirelessly to promote law-related education among Missouri teachers. Solomon was known for his high civic ideals and leadership guided by the best interests of students, and the advisory committee seeks similar traits in award recipients.

Previous winners of the award include civic educators, college presidents, judges and political leaders, notably former U.S. Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond and former U.S. Congressmen Kenny Hulshof and Ike Skelton.

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