This is a reading comprehension exercise for children. It is written by Susan Fineman, a reading specialist in the New Haven, Conn., school district.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Seventh-grader Rebecca DenHartigh is walking in Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's shoes. No, not following in her footsteps. She's really wearing her shoes.

Rebecca is one of 25 students in Cindy Broekhuizen's seventh-grade language arts class at East Christian School. The students were assigned to choose a role model, write a research paper about that person and send the paper to the person along with a request for a pair of his or hers shoes.

"I was hoping this would give the students the opportunity to walk in someone's shoes and imagine what it would be like to be that person," Broekhuizen said.

Three weeks after Rebecca sent her letter to O'Connor, a Federal Express package arrived with a pair of size 8 1/2, light green, black-tipped, rubber-sole shoes once worn by the nation's first female Supreme Court justice.

Rebecca wore them the rest of the day.

"They fit perfectly," she said. "I feel proud knowing that a person of such great importance would give me a pair of her shoes."

Only one other role model sent footwear: trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. He shipped a pair of size 9 shoes to William Karsten. Unlike Rebecca, William couldn't wear his new shoes -- his feet are size 14.

The shoes are staying at the school for a display.


1. What kind of research did teacher Cindy Broekhuizen ask her language arts class to do?

2. What were the seventh-graders instructed to do after completing their research papers?

3. How many students wrote letters to a role model? How many received a response?

4. Why did Rebecca DenHartigh select Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as her role model?

5. How long did it take for O'Connor to answer the student's letter?

6. Describe the shoes the justice sent to Rebecca.

7. How did the Michigan girl feel when she walked in the Supreme Court justice's shoes?

8. Why was William Karsten unable to wear the shoes his role model sent to him?

9. Why didn't many of the students receive a response to their letters?

10. Was Broekhuizen's assignment a good one? Explain.

Answer key (wording may vary):

1. The Michigan teacher asked her students to choose a role model and write a research paper about that person.

2. The students had to send the papers to their role models along with a request for a pair of the person's shoes.

3. Of the 25 students who wrote letters, only two received the requested footwear.

4. Answers will vary.

5. Three weeks after Rebecca sent her letter to O'Connor, she received a package from the Supreme Court justice.

6. The shoes were size 8. They were light green with black tips and rubber soles.

7. The seventh-grader felt proud to be wearing the shoes of such an important person.

8. William couldn't wear trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' size 9 shoes because his feet are size 14.

9. Answers will vary.

10. Answers will vary.