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Marla James


Union Catholic Regional High School • Scotch Plains, New Jersey

While most 10-year-olds spend their free time playing video games or scrolling on their phones, Marla James laid the groundwork for her future career path. 

“I set up a mock classroom in the basement of my parents’ home by the age of 10, and I played ‘teacher’ with old books my instructors were giving away at the end of the school year,” Marla said. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a Master of Arts degree in History and Journalism. She completed her Doctor of Education in the summer of 2023 while teaching AP Government, AP Politics, AP European History, Journalism, and English at Union Catholic Regional High School in Scotch Plains, N.J. 

Marla described the Bill of Rights Institute’s materials related to the U.S. Supreme Court as one of her “go-to” resources. 

“The primary source documents that are included really further the student’s understanding of the court cases and the basis for the majority and dissenting opinions,” Marla said. “I have even broken the document series up, and created gallery walks for the students to analyze each document with a partner.” 

Marla prides herself on finding creative ways to introduce content to her students, including adopting a “speed dating” approach to teaching them about U.S. Presidents. 

“When students return from college and tell me that what I taught them was really useful, it definitely makes me feel good,” she said. “Also, after a specific project, I had students tell me they found it to be a creative way to further their understanding.”