Photo by Reba Saldanha

Good Luck Luke!

Help us congratulate and say goodbye to Mock Trial and Mock Appeal Program Manager Luke Matys, who will be leaving staff at the end of July. He will be starting a new job with The Possible Zone, which assists high school students on their vocational and higher education paths.

Hired as a Senior Education Associate in October of 2019, Luke jumped right into the middle of Discovering Justice’s fall Mock Trial program. When COVID hit the next spring, the Mock Appeal Program was put on hold and Luke dove deep into the Programs’ curricula, format, and student lessons to make it available and accessible online. In the Fall of 2020, the program resumed and old and new schools joined the Program virtually. In 2021, Luke was promoted to Program Manager and his leadership has helped grow the Programs to nearly 30 teams, more than doubling its pre-pandemic size.

“Luke’s ability and passion for building connections with legal mentors, teachers, school administrators, and middle school students made him a unique fit to manage the Mock Appeal and Mock Trial Programs,” said Matt Wilson, Discovering Justice’s Executive Director. “We know he will excel in his new role at The Possible Zone.”

Luke accomplished much in his four years here. And he did it all with his wit and a smile on his face.

  • With the help of legal volunteers, he created two new cases for the Programs, one on First Amendment free speech issues and the other on 4th Amendment search and seizure issues.
  • He led the expansion of our work in many of the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities – Brockton, Framingham, Lowell, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester.
  • He trained and oversaw nine Mock Trial/Appeal Fellows providing training and mentorship to these young professionals and helping them start their nonprofit career.
  • Each semester he trained and managed more than 125 mentors and more than 25 teachers a semester to serve the 400+ students in the Programs.
  • He oversaw the first team outside of Massachusetts with the addition of a middle school in Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Under his management, the Programs now have its culminating events in the Moakley and ten Federal and District Courts across the Commonwealth.

While the staff at Discovering Justice is sad to see Luke leave, we are excited to see what is next for him and how he continues to use his skills and talents to help educate and energize the next generation.

-Matt Wilson and the whole Discovering Justice Staff

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Programs for College Students and Law Students at the Moakley

College students and law students now have the opportunity to experience the justice system firsthand through tours, meetings with federal judges, and court observations at the Moakley Courthouse. It is the perfect chance for these students to get an inside look into the workings of the justice system.

This tour allows students to explore law in action and learn about the art, architecture, and history of this civic space. The 2-3 hour College Student Court Visit consists of an hour guided tour of the building, a visit with a Federal Judge or other Legal Professionals at the Moakley, and/or observation of the First Circuit Court of Appeals oral arguments or District Court hearings. This is a unique opportunity for professors and students interested and involved in the legal field to see firsthand the system of justice through this experiential learning experience.

“Learning about the function of the justice system was an eye-opening and highly enjoyable experience. The courthouse itself was very beautiful and full of history and symbolism and the tour provided by the Discovering Justice staff was even more impressive. I recommend this experience to all students, particularly college students who may be interested in working in the justice system. It opens your eyes to so many opportunities.” Cameron Howard, Emmanuel College, Class of 2025, a College Student Court Visitor.

“My favorite part of our tour was seeing the inside of a courtroom. Sitting in the room where justice happens, and learning about the justice system, was a unique and very cool experience.” Annabelle Sarojak, Emmanuel College, Class of 2025, a College Student Court Visitor.

The Moakley Courthouse is open to all colleges and universities (including law schools) interested in this invaluable educational experience. For more information, reach out to Courthouse Programs Associate Kiara Batista at To book a visit, fill out this Court Visit Request Form.

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New Third Grade Curriculum on Justice and Native People to be Released this Fall

The Children Discovering Justice curriculum will expand to Grade Three this year with new modules ready to be released next month for the 2023-24 school year.

With the updated curriculum, Third Grade teachers across the Commonwealth will focus on justice and Native peoples, consistent with the Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework. With lessons on tribal sovereignty, impacts of erasure on Native peoples, and through case studies of present-day advocacy, students will explore the hard history of this country and the reclamation that many are advocating for today.

Discovering Justice has partnered with Native speakers across Massachusetts and a speaker from the Association on American Indian Affairs to show young learners through video interviews how Native peoples continue to be justice advocates.

“As a Native woman and an educator myself, I hope that 3rd Graders who experience this curriculum will have a healthier, more just, and balanced experience than I would have had in American public schools at their age, and that they will hear it from the direct, varied, and rich perspectives of Native folks themselves. I hope most centrally that students and their teachers walk away with an unequivocal understanding that WE ARE STILL HERE, the curiosity to learn more about Indigenous justice issues, and the agency to use their own voices to lift ours and advocate for a better future for us all,” states Katie Henries, school leader and Nipmuc/k Indian.

Preview a video from one of our guest speakers, Colleen Medicine, a representative of the Association on American Indian Affairs, discussing Native contributions and advocacy for change. These videos are a foundational component of this Massachusetts History & Social Science standard-aligned curriculum.

Discovering Justice has already contracted with a dozen schools and districts to provide professional development this coming school year that prepares educators to discuss complex issues with young learners. Educators will explore the tools and resources available in the curriculum as well as best practices for leading civil discourse in the classroom.

Contact Education Program Director to bring K-3 civics professional development to your district.

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Civics Budget Remains Stuck in Legislative Conference Committee

In May, the Massachusetts Senate approved a budget that includes a 25% increase to the Civics Project Trust Fund to $2.5 million. The Trust Fund supports curriculum and teacher professional development around civic education, both on a state and school district level.

With the additional funds voted unanimously by a 39-0 vote into the Senate budget, but not the House budget passed in April, a Conference Committee of six members (Senators Rodrigues, Friedman, and O’Connor and Representatives Michlewitz, Ferrante, and Smola) has been meeting for the last six weeks to decide whether the final budget will include the Senate’s $2.5 million allocation or the House’s $1.5 million allocation.

With the final vote imminent, please click here to take two minutes to send a quick note to encourage your local State Representative and state Senator to support civics in the Conference Committee by increasing funding for the Civic Project Trust Fund to $2.5 million. The budget process should wrap up in the next week, so send your letter today.

We all know how important civics is for our students. Yet many of our school systems don’t have the support or resources to teach civics for Grades K-12.

Increased funding will help support:

  • More Community Grants for local school systems to develop and implement quality civic education programming such as Children Discovering Justice
  • Professional Learning Pathways, a statewide system for professional development for K-12 teachers that are teaching civics
  • Increased access to Curriculum Resources and Support for civic education
  • More Civic Showcases to highlight student-led civics projects
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Kayla Nordman

Kayla Nordman believes strongly in expanding access to comprehensive civic education to provide the next generation with the resources they need to uphold and expand upon the values of American democracy and create a more equitable future. Before joining Discovering Justice, she worked as a Legislative Intern at the Massachusetts State House and as a Program Manager for the Massachusetts Center for Civic Education. Kayla graduated from Suffolk University with a BA in International Relations.