Category: News

Thank You, Ann!

We’re updating the Discovering Justice community with news both exciting and bittersweet: after eleven years with Discovering Justice, our Chief Operating Office Ann Gogol departed from the organization earlier this month.

 

Ann is moving on to become the first Executive Director of the Martin Trust Partnership in Education for Early Learners. We offer Ann our sincerest congratulations and well wishes for her next chapter.

 

Over the past eleven years, Ann has helped build Discovering Justice into one of the strongest civic education groups in the Commonwealth, bringing our programs to more than 50 school districts and over 21,000 students. 

 

An institutional part of the Discovering Justice team, Ann’s impact has been clear. She took on many roles within the organization, including two stints as interim Executive Director, and she has been instrumental in building strong relationships within the Moakley Courthouse and its staff; growing our civic education work across all of our programs; writing grants and stewarding a number of our foundation partners; recruiting sponsors and coordinating our recent Galas; and, as the organization’s COO, keeping our books in order and producing consistent, clean financial audits. 

 

We are grateful for the grace, passion, and professionalism with which Ann took on all of these responsibilities. Ann cares deeply about Discovering Justice and the people who make up our community. We will miss her hard work and dedication, and we wish her great success in her next position. 

 

Thank you, Ann!!

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Meet Thomas Rachele: “Partner for Justice” & Tireless Student Advocate

Meet Thomas Rachele: “Partner for Justice" & Tireless Student Advocate

“Thomas Rachele is the embodiment of an exceptional educator, district leader, and partner of Discovering Justice. He is a hands-on leader who knows what students deserve and believes in what they can achieve. His genuine care and respect for each student in Springfield drives every piece of his work.”
Laura Brenner
Discovering Justice Education Director

As Director of Humanities for Springfield Public Schools, Thomas has been an ardent champion of Discovering Justice programs in Springfield since 2021. 

In Tom, we have an invaluable collaborator and ambassador for our programs. He has played vital roles both in conceptualizing our K-3 Children Discovering Justice (CDJ) curriculum and helping Discovering Justice expand our programs to students across Springfield in grades K-8.

Tom’s dedication to his students drives his ongoing partnership with Discovering Justice. Teaching students how to advocate for themselves and others, Tom believes, is vitally important – and it starts with our youngest learners in CDJ.

“All students need to be able to recognize what justice is,” he explains, “so they can recognize when it’s not present.”

“Tom is tireless in his efforts in ensuring that all students have access to lasting and meaningful student learning experiences. He always has students at the forefront of his decision making and uses student learning outcomes as the compass for his work.”
Stefania Raschilla
Superintendent of West Springfield Public Schools

Tom’s dedication to his students drives his ongoing partnership with Discovering Justice. Teaching students how to advocate for themselves and others, Tom believes, is vitally important – and it starts with our youngest learners in CDJ.

“All students need to be able to recognize what justice is,” he explains, “so they can recognize when it’s not present.”

You can meet Tom and all of our 2024 Partners for Justice Awardees at our Annual Gala on June 26th.

Through Tom’s hard work and persistence, Discovering Justice has expanded our reach through Springfield and beyond. After just three years, we’re proud to report that every elementary student in Springfield Public Schools has access to four years of our CDJ civics curriculum, and five Springfield middle schools host teams of ‘student attorneys’ in our Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program. That means we impact thousands of students in Springfield every year – and that’s not counting the connections Tom has helped us make to bring our programs into West Springfield and Worcester Public Schools!

“Director Rachele has been an invaluable asset to Springfield Public Schools. While enhancing the curriculum in programs like Civics Education and Early Financial Literacy, Tom has proven himself to be an effective leader focused on the well-being of students and educators. I look forward to continuing to partner with Tom to serve the students and faculty of Springfield Public Schools and the Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester District.”
Senator Jake Oliveira
Massachusetts State Senate - Hampden, Hampshire and Worcester District

Tom’s work with students and the community began long before his current role as SPS Director of Humanities. In his two decades working with students in Springfield, he began as a classroom teacher, then broadened his reach as an academic coach with SPS, before transitioning to the Supervisor of Secondary ELA and Libraries, allowing him to have an impact on students across the district. He is passionately committed to promoting equity through literacy, English language arts, history, and social science by providing all students with impactful teaching and learning experiences.

“Discovering Justice teaches students not only that they have a voice and how to use it,” he says, “but also that using their voice means something.”

“Thomas Rachele has been a pivotal figure in our district. His advocacy for innovative educational practices underscores his commitment to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to succeed. He is a visionary leader who is shaping the future of education in our community, and I have no doubt that his continued efforts will inspire generations to come."
Daniel Warwick
Springfield Superintendent of Schools through SY24

Discovering Justice is grateful for Tom’s incredible partnership over the years. We’re looking forward to presenting Tom’s award, as well as hearing from all our Awardees on the importance of doing work they believe in, at our Annual Gala on June 26th.

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Meet Hannah Esquenazi: A “Partner for Justice” Who Goes Above and Beyond

Meet Hannah Esquenazi: A “Partner for Justice” Who Goes Above And Beyond

Discovering Justice has been honored to partner with Hannah as volunteer Legal Mentor in our Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program since 2019.

From mentoring middle school ‘student attorneys’ in Boston, to leading the mentoring team at Jones Day, to helping recruit and train new volunteers, Hannah has been an instrumental partner in Discovering Justice’s work to double the size of the program in the last four years.

Teaching Massachusetts students about the law and their rights has been particularly rewarding for Hannah. “It is a gift each semester to watch the ‘student attorneys’ gain confidence, face their fears, stand in front of a judge, and successfully grapple with complicated legal questions,” Hannah says.

Hannah and a middle school ‘student attorney’ hard at work in 2021.

Derek Doherty, teacher at Boston’s Mildred Ave K-8 School, reports that Hannah’s passion for this work inspires her students:

“Hannah is an amazing educator. She knows the law on a deep level - but she also knows how to scaffold that knowledge in ways that make it accessible to middle school students. And Hannah makes learning fun and engaging – students sense her passion and interest, which leads to our students being more engaged and interested in their work.”
Derek Doherty
Teacher, Mildred Ave K-8 School

You can meet Hannah and all of our 2024 Partners for Justice Awardees at our Annual Gala on June 26th.

Hannah says that “witnessing that tangible moment when the students gain confidence, latch onto their arguments, and are able to advocate successfully” is one of her favorite aspects of volunteering with the program.

“In the end,” she reflects, it is often hard to get them to sit back down, because they become so passionate and confident about the issues!”

Hannah looks on as a ‘student attorney’ presents his work during a spring 2023 Mock Appeal Final Event.

Discovering Justice staff Malia Brooks describes Hannah going above and beyond in her work in support of both our Mock Trial & Mock Appeal Program and its participants:

“Hannah cares so much about the students she volunteers with, and it shows in the extra effort she puts in to support the program. As the point person for her team, she recruits and trains new volunteers and is eager to share her expertise and experience. When school’s out for the summer, she has even served as an extra set of eyes on our curriculum and helped us coordinate an in-person orientation event. When I think of Hannah, I hear her saying, “Let me know how I can help!”
Malia Brooks
Discovering Justice staff

As an attorney, Hannah works as an Associate at Jones Day in their Financial Markets practice group. There, she advises and represents financial institutions in litigation matters, with a particular focus on evolving legal and regulatory risks and disputes related to complex commercial transactions and consumer products. She also maintains an active pro bono practice, representing women and minors seeking asylum, and proudly serves as chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s (HNBA) Special Committee for Community Outreach and Pro Bono Services. In January, Hannah was named one of the HNBA’s “Top Lawyers Under 40.”

Discovering Justice is enormously grateful for Hannah’s hard work and support over the last five years. We’re looking forward to presenting Hannah’s award, as well as hearing from all our Awardees on the importance of doing work they believe in, at our Annual Gala on June 26th.

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Discovering Justice Board of Trustees Updates

Discovering Justice is excited to announce two updates to its Board of Trustees: Sarah Frazier (left) of WilmerHale is our new Vice Chair of the Board, and Louis Lobel of Goodwin (right) is our new Board Treasurer.

We’re grateful for Sarah and Louis’s years of support as members of Discovering Justice’s Board, and we’re excited to deepen our work with them in their new roles. Thank you, Sarah and Louis!

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Introducing Two New Discovering Justice Staff

Emily Dall'Orso - Courthouse Programs Manager

Emily Dall’Orso believes in the power of object- and place-based learning to engage students of all ages in American history, civics, democracy, and the work towards a more equitable society. Emily is currently completing her MSEd in Learning and Engagement in Museums and Cultural Organizations at Bank Street College of Education.

Since joining in February as Courthouse Programs Manager, Emily oversees Discovering Justice’s innovative Field Trip Program, including leading field trips herself, and works with the Moakley Courthouse to implement speaker events for the public.

Kiley Hartman - Mock Trial and Mock Appeal Programs Manager

In March, Kiley Hartman was brought on to lead our growing Mock Trial and Mock Appeal Programs.

A former Mock Trial participant herself, Kiley believes that Mock Trial is an excellent tool to foster student confidence and autonomy. Before joining Discovering Justice, she worked as a middle school teacher at Brooke Charter School Mattapan. Kiley is passionate about providing students with the knowledge necessary to navigate an increasingly complex justice system.

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Meet Our Spring 2024 Fellows

Our Spring Fellows will spend a semester working on Discovering Justice programs.
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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.