Mock Trial Program Kicks off with Record 34 Teams in 15 School Districts

Following five in-person and one virtual orientations for 140 volunteer Legal Mentors and Teacher Coordinators, Discovering Justice is excited to be ringing in its 24th year of its Mock Trial Program. With 35 teams, this is the largest set of teams yet, with more than 400 student attorneys being trained from Pittsfield to New Bedford. 

In addition to returning partners that have been with the program for over a decade, we are excited to welcome first-time schools and partners (in bold below).

Thanks go out to our dedicated Mock Trial partners Brockton Public Schools, Committee for Public Counsel Services Worcester, Lowell Public Schools, Jones Day, and Springfield Public Schools who hosted the orientations for Legal Mentors and Teacher Coordinators. More than 150 folks came together with fellow participants in their cities to learn and connect to plan for this semester’s case. Pivoting from the virtual orientations that were introduced at the outset of COVID, these collaborative planning sessions provided teams with the opportunity to brainstorm, troubleshoot, and address the program’s unique needs in each city. In Brockton, District Court Judge Michelle Fentress and in Springfield, U.S District Court Judge Katherine Robertson joined the orientations to speak about their love for the program and the community impact they’ve witnessed over the years.

With the Program well underway, Community Partnership Manager Malia Brooks is making plans for Federal and State judges to visit the teams midway through the program. At this session midway through the Program, students will have the opportunity to learn about the role of a judge and meet with them in a more casual setting prior to their trial date in December.

As part of the Mock Trial final events the weeks of December 11th and 18th, we invite family, caregivers, colleagues, and community members to fill the jury box. If you are interested in volunteering for this fun and engaging 2-hour event, please contact Community Partnerships Manager Malia Brooks at mbrooks@discoveringjustice.org.

 

Discovering Justice Fall 2023 Mock Trial Teams

Boston

  • Blackstone Elementary / Mintz – Lawyers for Civil Rights
  • Boston Latin Academy / U.S Attorney’s Office
  • Boston Latin School / City of Boston Legal Department
  • Brooke Charter School East Boston / Vertex
  • Ellis K-6 School / DLA Piper
  • Hernández K-8 School / WilmerHale
  • Mildred Ave K-8 School / GE – JonesDay
  • St. John School / Goodwin – Boston University School of Law

Brookline

  • Florida Ruffin Ridley School / Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
  • Runkle School / Attys. Jonathan Simpson, Joshua Dupuy, Patty Correa, & Susan Howards

Cambridge

  • Rindge Avenue Upper Campus (RAUC) / Takeda Pharmaceuticals

 

Medford

  • Medford Public Schools / Atty. Kathleen Maloney
  • St. Raphael Parish School / Attys. Elise Kopley & Mark Rumley

Waltham

  • McDevitt Middle School / Morse, The Law Office of Kevin M. Dwyer, Jr. & Pyle Rome Ehrenberg PC

Framingham

  • Cameron Middle School / Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Dell, & Atty. Joe Shields

Brockton

  • North Middle School / Plymouth County Bar Association, Atty. Keith Durden
  • East Middle School / Committee for Public Counsel Services – Brockton Children and Family Law Office
  • South Middle School / Committee for Public Counsel Services – Brockton
  • West Middle School / Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office 

Lowell

  • Daley Middle School / Committee for Public Counsel Services – Lowell
  • Robinson Middle School / Middlesex District Attorney’s Office 
  • Stoklosa Middle School / Freitas & Freitas LLP
  • Sullivan Middle School /Attys. Karen Sheehan, Atty. Jomarie Buckley, & Atty. Ryan Sullivan

New Bedford

  • Normandin Middle School / UMass Law School

Pittsfield

  • Reid Middle School / Atty. Jennifer Carpenter, Atty. Miriam Maduro, & Atty. Ryan Cummins

Providence

  • Nathan Bishop Middle School / U.S Attorney’s Office Rhode Island 

Springfield

    • Duggan Academy / MassMutual & Western New England School of Law 
    • Renaissance School / Committee for Public Counsel Services Springfield Youth Advocacy Division 
    • South End Middle School / Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Western Mass
    • STEM Middle School / Hampden County Lawyers for Justice
  • Roger L. Putnam Vocational-Technical Academy

West Springfield

  • West Springfield Middle School / Central West Justice Center

South Hadley

  • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts / Bulkley Richardson

Worcester

  • Forest Grove Middle School / Committee for Public Counsel Services, Worcester
  • Sullivan Middle School / Worcester County Bar Association

 

Discovering Justice Fall 2023 Mock Trial Teams

Boston

  • Blackstone Elementary / Mintz – Lawyers for Civil Rights
  • Boston Latin Academy / U.S Attorney’s Office
  • Boston Latin School / City of Boston Legal Department
  • Brooke Charter School East Boston / Vertex
  • Ellis K-6 School / DLA Piper
  • Hernández K-8 School / WilmerHale
  • Mildred Ave K-8 School / GE – JonesDay
  • St. John School / Goodwin – Boston University School of Law

Brookline

  • Florida Ruffin Ridley School / Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
  • Runkle School / Attys. Jonathan Simpson, Joshua Dupuy, Patty Correa, & Susan Howards

Cambridge

  • Rindge Avenue Upper Campus (RAUC) / Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Medford

  • Medford Public Schools / Atty. Kathleen Maloney
  • St. Raphael Parish School / Attys. Elise Kopley & Mark Rumley

Waltham

  • McDevitt Middle School / Morse, The Law Office of Kevin M. Dwyer, Jr. & Pyle Rome Ehrenberg PC

Framingham

  • Cameron Middle School / Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Dell, & Atty. Joe Shields

Brockton

  • North Middle School / Plymouth County Bar Association, Atty. Keith Durden
  • East Middle School / Committee for Public Counsel Services – Brockton Children and Family Law Office
  • South Middle School / Committee for Public Counsel Services – Brockton
  • West Middle School / Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office 

Lowell

  • Daley Middle School / Committee for Public Counsel Services – Lowell
  • Robinson Middle School / Middlesex District Attorney’s Office 
  • Stoklosa Middle School / Freitas & Freitas LLP
  • Sullivan Middle School /Attys. Karen Sheehan, Atty. Jomarie Buckley, & Atty. Ryan Sullivan

New Bedford

  • Normandin Middle School / UMass Law School

Pittsfield

  • Reid Middle School / Atty. Jennifer Carpenter, Atty. Miriam Maduro, & Atty. Ryan Cummins

Providence

  • Nathan Bishop Middle School / U.S Attorney’s Office Rhode Island 

Springfield

    • Duggan Academy / MassMutual & Western New England School of Law 
    • Renaissance School / Committee for Public Counsel Services Springfield Youth Advocacy Division 
    • South End Middle School / Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Western Mass
    • STEM Middle School / Hampden County Lawyers for Justice
  • Roger L. Putnam Vocational-Technical Academy

West Springfield

  • West Springfield Middle School / Central West Justice Center

South Hadley

  • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts / Bulkley Richardson

Worcester

  • Forest Grove Middle School / Committee for Public Counsel Services, Worcester
  • Sullivan Middle School / Worcester County Bar Association
Community Partnerships Manager Malia Brooks leads a Mock Trial orientation in Springfield.
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Meet Discovering Justice’s three Fall 2023 Fellows

Our Fall 2023 Fellows make up the seventh class of young professionals who spend a semester working on Discovering Justice programs.
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Teachers Diving Deep into Children Discovering Justice Curriculum

Teachers at the Tarbox Elementary School in Lawrence prepare to rollout the Children Discovering Justice Curriculum to their students.

More than 100 Grade K-3 teachers across seven school districts are participating in Discovering Justice-led Professional Learning Cohorts as they implement the innovative Children Discovering Justice (CDJ) lessons in their classrooms.

“The Cohort model is a great way for teachers to collaborate and problem solve with colleagues who are also prioritizing civics and social studies instructional time in their classrooms” said Education Program Director, Laura Brenner, who helped develop the updated curriculum. Some of these cohorts bring together educators from across one district, others are school-based cohorts. 

Throughout the school year teachers will meet to unpack, debrief, and plan lessons from Children Discovering Justice, a Massachusetts standards based supplemental civics and social studies curriculum. Led by Brenner, teachers will reflect on challenges, problem solve, and explore and share culturally responsive civic pedagogical practices.

With social studies being one of the most marginalized subjects in elementary classrooms, with limited time for teachers to plan, teach, and receive professional development, these cohorts are extra important to support educators and our students in accomplishing this important work.

“Teaching the Children Discovering Justice curriculum and supporting its implementation district-wide can have a profound impact on my students, equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to become informed, active, and responsible citizens in a democratic society,” said Katie Xie, a Third Grade Boston Public School teacher. 

As the Grade K-3 curriculum is being used in more than 25 school districts, Discovering Justice is also developing a Grade 4 curriculum in which students will explore regions of the U.S., geography, and map skills and focus on present and past justice advocates across the nation.

In addition to running this year-long cohorts, Discovering Justice provides professional development to districts and schools interested in implementing the free Children Discovering Justice curriculum. To learn more about CDJ, visit our website here. To inquire about professional development for your school or district, contact Laura Brenner at lbrenner@discoveringjustice.org.

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Massachusetts Legislature Overrides Governor Healey’s Civics Veto

On October 5th, the Massachusetts Senate voted to override Governor Healey’s veto of the Civics Project Trust Fund. 

This vote, coupled with the Massachusetts’ House vote the week before, officially reconfirms the Commonwealth’s investment in civic education for the upcoming school year. The FY24 budget increased the Civics Project Trust Fund by 25% to $2,500,000.

“This victory is a testament to the widespread support and importance of civic education for our students,” said Discovering Justice Executive Director Matt Wilson, who is the Advocacy Chair of the Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition, a group of 40+ civic education organizations and supporters in the Commonwealth.

In July, the Legislature voted to increase funding to the Trust Fund by $500,000 for the second year in a row. The increase this year was vetoed by Governor Healey who proposed a $500,000 cut to the Trust Fund. You can read more about the override vote in this CommonWealth Magazine article.

The override restores funding for civic education and will support:

  • An increased number of local grants for school districts to support civic education 
  • Professional Development for our civics teachers through the Professional Learning Pathways Program 
  • Development ofInvestigating History,” civics curriculum for Grades 3 and 4
  • Civic Showcases to highlight the projects of 8th graders and high school students

Discovering Justice currently works with the Boston, Chelsea, Dennis-Yarmouth, Hopkinton, Springfield, and West Springfield school districts, all which have received funds from the Civics Project Trust Fund. 

Thanks to all the Discovering Justice supporters who sent notes to their Senators and Representatives encouraging their support for civic education.

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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.