Category: News

Discovering Justice Launches Long Range Planning Process

Looking to sketch out an ambitious plan to bring a robust civic education program to all corners of the Commonwealth, Discovering Justice has embarked on the development of a strategic plan to guide its work over the next three years.

To help guide the Project, Discovering Justice Has hired Jackie Jenkins-Scott (Right) Founder and President of JJS Advising and Marta Rosa (Left), President of MTR Consulting Services, two nonprofits leaders from the Boston area. Over the four month process, Jenkins-Scott and Rosa will conduct a scan of the needs for civic education across the Commonwealth, assess the resources available across the sector, and work with the Board, staff, and organizational partners to develop focused strategies to bring high quality civic education to Massachusetts students. In addition, supporters and volunteers of Discovery Justices will be surveyed to solicit their input 

Through the process, the organization will discuss critical issues such as what programs should be expanded, what grades levels should be focused on, how to develop programs that discuss injustices in the system, and how to identify potential sources of revenue to fund the work.

A final report is expected after the new year and will be released to the Discovering Justice Members and the general public.

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Photo/Reba Saldanha  Discovering Justice Mock Trials December 10, 2019

Mock Trial Program Goes Online

On September 24th, Discovering Justice hosted its first ever online orientation for more than 40 legal mentors, to prepare partners for the upcoming 2020 Fall Mock Trial season.

Judge Donald Cabell kicked off the training, describing his experience with the program and reiterating his gratitude for attorneys volunteering their time to participate in the program. Over the course of the two hour orientation, legal mentors experienced an online class, assessed the particular challenges we face this semester, and collaborated together to problem-solve these challenges.

Discovering Justice will virtually launch its 2020 Fall Mock Trial Program on October 5th to continue the program’s 20 year history. Students, legal mentors, and teachers from across the state will be engaged online on cases focused on 1st and 4th Amendment rights. The Discovering Justice staff have created a number of interactive learning materials and activities to ensure that students have the opportunity to build their civic skills, engage with the greater community, and transform into empowered community members.

Thirteen teams from across the state are expected to participate.

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Statewide Conference Pushes Civic Education and Engagement

On September 24-25, hundreds of K-12 educators and school and district leaders across the Commonwealth joined together virtually for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Annual Civic Literacy Conference. This year the focus of the conference was Civic Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions: Building Student Capacity for Civic Engagement. 

Discovering Justice Education Program Director, Laura Brenner, and Boston Public Schools Grade 5 Teacher, Jessica Hyland led a workshop for teachers and administrators called Active Engagement and Critical Thinking: Mock Trials in the Elementary Classroom. The Workshop laid out Discovering Justice’s new virtual mini mock trial units for grades 1-5 to be used either online or in the classroom. The modules range from lessons on how to mediate disputes using the Boston Massacre as a context to discussing ownership rights, using Native American artifacts at a museum as a case study. 

This summer, a team of teachers from Lowell and Boston Public Schools worked with Discovering Justice to create these new standards aligned virtual units to be piloted this fall 2020. DJ’s new virtual units are designed to meet students’ and teachers’ current needs by being:

  • fully accessible and usable virtually (online powerpoint and accompanying virtual worksheets can be used for any model of teaching)
  • inquiry based 
  • covers key history & social sciences practice, literacy, and content standards in 7-10 lessons
  • flexible to be used as a stand alone unit or to extend, enhance, & supplement CDJ or other social studies, civics, or ELA curriculum 
  • created by teachers, for teachers
  • connected to themes in current events

Teachers or administrators interested in piloting one of these virtual units can find the overview and materials here. If you are interested in this program please sign up here. Please feel free to share these resources with your colleagues and networks.

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Discovering Justice’s Online Gala Honoring Dr. Joshua Boger

COVID-19 did not cancel our annual Gala – we just moved it to October 15 and moved it online. 

Click HERE to attend our Fall 2020 Gala to have the chance to listen and talk about justice online! Gather and participate in a virtual classroom with Discovering Justice staff, board, supporters, and judicial leaders across the Commonwealth. 

Buy a ticket and receive fun gifts to use during the event.

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Photo/Reba Saldanha  June 17, 2020

Discovering Justice Goes to Summer Camp

What do you do when you are unable to run your summer leadership camps in person? You call Discovering Justice to develop a program to help your campers learn about the legal system and discuss the ideals of justice with legal experts and community leaders.

This summer, Discovering Justice partnered with Crossroads and Camp Harbor View to deliver Discovering Justice in a Pandemic, a program for 8th, 9th, and 11th grade students to explore the balance between individual rights and collective responsibility. Using COVID-19 as a case study. Discovering Justice engaged 200 student campers in the Boston area over the course of July and August. The program provided students with multiple perspectives from guest speakers such as Discovering Justice Board Member Carmen Ortiz from Anderson & Krieger, Gary Katzman, a judge from the U.S. Court of International Trade, Jenny Fernandez from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. Cassandra Pierre a doctor from the Boston Medical Center and public health students from Boston University School of Public Health.

Discovering Justice in a Pandemic provided an opportunity for Discovering Justice to partner with other nonprofits and schools over the coming year about how the legal system provides a vehicle for social change. The organization is exploring sessions on Law and Sports, Law and Social Movements (civil rights, womens’ rights, environmental rights), and America as a protest nation. The program aims to remain topical so students stay informed, educated, and prepared to lead in the face of real issues facing the community.

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Discovering Justice Welcomes it’s First Class of Fellows!

Discovering Justice has hired four Fellows for the organization’s inaugural Fellowship Program. They will be with the organization for ten weeks working directly with staff on program and organizational development projects. Please welcome our first cohort of Discovering Justice Fellows! 

  • Alzeta Wilson, Mock Trial/Topics Fellow (Top Left) – Alzeta works with Senior Education Associate Luke Matys on the Fall Mock Trial Program, developing curriculum, helping to manage our partners, monitoring and evaluating operations, gathering feedback and data, helping to organize the online culminating event, and laying the groundwork for the Spring semester. She will also be doing preliminary research for the Topics Program to help identify potential paths and sources. 

Alzeta lives in Georgia and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Sociology and Demography.

  • Ally Damante, Development/Communications Fellow (Top Center)– Ally works with Executive Director Matt Wilson and Chief Operating Office Ann Gogol to organize Discovering Jutice’s Annual Gala. She is also implementing the organization’s social media and communications plan.

Ally is a recent graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, where she received a B.A. in Arts for Social Change. She is passionate about artistic expression, civic engagement, youth empowerment and previously interned at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the Andrew Goodman Foundation.

  • Grace Heiderman, Courthouse Tours Fellow (Top Right) – Grace works with Office Administrator Henry Schunk to help create a set of online Courthouse Tours. She will be developing a set of tours focused on different aspects and features of the Courthouse and adapt them for different ages.

Grace has been in Europe taking courses in Museum Studies. She worked for UNESCO to support museums and worked with a NGO to promote tolerance through cultural heritage. 

  • Carolina Hutt-Sierra, Strategic Planning and Development Fellow (Bottom Left) – Carolina works with Executive Director Matt Wilson on the organization’s strategic planning process. She will also be helping to develop and build Discovering Justice’s Foundation outreach and Individual Giving plans.

    Carolina is a recent graduate of Middlebury College where she studied History and Education Studies. She has taught science and social studies to middle and high school students in DC, Vermont, and Maine and is deeply invested in building supportive and inclusive communities both in and out of the classroom. 

Through its Intern Program, Discovering Justice is also hosting Fall Intern from Tufts University

  • Rachael Totz, In-School Program Intern. (Bottom Right) Rachael works with Education Program Director Laura Brenner on Discovering Justice’s In-School program and curricular materials. Rachael is from Houston, Texas and is a senior at Tufts University studying Sociology, Civic Studies, and Philosophy. Rachel is interested in the intersection between education and perceptions of the justice system.
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