WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court holds a special significance for a Northeast Washington Elementary School.
Turns out, the Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has mentored and tutored students at J.O. Wilson for the last 18 years.
Imagine being an elementary school teacher in D.C. and you’re suddenly summoned to the White House. That’s exactly what happened to Charlene Wilburn.
“Well, I got a call on the intercom and they said, Miss WIlburn, the White House is on the phone,” said Charlene Wilburn, a teacher a J.O. Wilson Elementary School.
President Obama was about to name Judge Merrick Garland as his Supreme Court nominee. The unassuming man who tutors and mentors her students requested her presence at the Rose Garden event.
“And I said, well I’m in jeans and tennis shoes. I said, I can’t very well go to the White House like that.They said, well he really wants you there. So I said, okay, I’m coming,” Wilburn said.
A family member hustled to the school with clothing and raced her to the White House.
“I was just floored. And I was honored, really honored that he chose me to come. I mean, really honored,” said Wilburn.
That gesture came as no surprise to those who know him at J.O. Wilson Elementary School.
“He’s been coming every other week for 18 years,” said Heidi Haggerty, the principal at J.O. Wilson Elementary School. “He doesn’t just tutor somebody for a year. When he takes on a student, he follows them for many years.”
Judge Garland has been tutoring Vernell Garvin since she was in 1st grade. Now, she’s in fifth grade.
“He really helps me with my homework. He’s a great tutor and he inspires me a lot. He inspires me to become a judge,” Garvin said.
“When we have hard homework and we don’t understand it, he helps us. Like algebra,” said Jenifer Morales, 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,” said Garvin.
A living history lesson for the students, followed by a once in a lifetime experience for their teacher.)
“I looked at the Garden and I looked around and I just thought, I’m just going to feel this moment and enjoy this moment for what it is,” said Wilburn.
Judge Garland also expects his law clerks to volunteer at this school. He tells them it’s not just about helping kids, it will also make each of them a better person.
Political analysts say the showdown over filling the Supreme Court vacancy could impact the presidential race and control of the Senate.