Posted in: Students & Educators

The SC Bar Law Related Education (LRE) Division has named Barbara Petit, mock trial teacher at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, the 2017 Citizen of the Year. Petit was presented with a $500 award during the school’s awards day on May 16.

Barbara Petit became involved with Heathwood Hall’s mock trial program in 2012 as the middle school objections coach. By 2014 Petit was the lead mock trial coach for both the high school and middle school levels.

“Her students are devoted to her and she is devoted to them,” said Head of School Chris Hinchey. “She makes herself available to her junior lawyers at all hours of the day, and she leaves no stone unturned during the preparation for the case.”

Her dedication to the preparation of her students is evident. Since taking the role of lead coach, the high school team has won its regional competition and advanced to the state competition twice, and the middle school team has won its regional competition twice and competed at the state competition three times.

Petit’s road to success was not an easy one. She built the school’s mock trial program from the ground up, starting with no funds, no materials and no experienced students. Then, in 2013, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I just knew she would have to cut back her time with the students, but she didn’t,” said Glenda Edwards, a parent. “She continued to work with her students, and that year, the team was the alternate team for regionals.”

“It touched me to know that during Mrs. Petit’s tough times, she still thought of everyone else,” said student Marra Edwards. “Her compassion and love for our team made us all try our hardest.”

Petit’s involvement in mock trial extends far beyond the SC Bar Mock Trial program. She has taken her students to mock trial summer camps at UNC and to international mock trial competitions. She also created a community service project for the high school team members to mentor middle school mock trial students for a week during the summer.

“In three short years, Barb has taken a small group of students and turned the program into a competitive program that can challenge some of the best teams in the state,” said Hinchey. “It takes a unique skill set to get students to do more than they think they can. Barb has made these students self confident, committed and resilient. The lessons she has taught them will serve them well for decades to come.”

As one of her students said, “Without her, I wouldn’t be who I am today. With her, the sky’s the limit.”

The LRE Citizen of the Year Award is presented to an individual serving in South Carolina who has fostered public understanding of the values of the legal and judicial system; stimulated a deeper sense of individual responsibility by helping students recognize their legal duties and rights; encouraged and supported effective LRE programs; and increased communication among students, educators and those working in the legal system.