Liberty & Law Civics Education Program Earns High Marks at Norristown Middle Schools
NORRISTOWN, PA – Lawyers and judges from throughout Montgomery County are teaming up to bring civics education to Norristown area middle schools. The Montgomery Bar Association’s (MBA) volunteer-based Liberty & Law program aims to help area youth understand the justice system, appreciate the constitution and understand the rights and laws that affect their daily lives.
Throughout the school year, fifteen (15) teams comprised of one judge and two attorneys conduct six (6) sessions of varying topics to all sixth-grade public school students in the Norristown Area School District. Each lesson is presented in a way that makes the topics fun and relatable to the students. This past year, teams fanned out to classrooms in East Norriton Middle School, Eisenhower Science & Technology Leadership Academy, and Stewart Middle School to present a lesson on Laws to over 500 attentive and enthusiastic sixth grade students.
Response from the students has been overwhelmingly positive and no doubt influenced the decision to continue with the program. The MBA was flooded with thank you letters from each school. “I am so appreciative and grateful of all of the time you spent teaching my class about the law, our rights and much more,” said one student from Eisenhower. “Having you come to our classroom was special because we usually don’t learn this information until we’re much older,” a student from ENMS remarked. Another student from ENMS quipped: “You coming into our classroom meant a lot to me because I was thinking about being a lawyer - my mom says I argue enough.”
Students aren’t the only ones benefitting from this program. Participation and interest in the program among the legal community has grown since last year’s launch. Because of the increased interest, an additional attorney has been added to each team, which allows for more scheduling flexibility. MBA Immediate Past-President Hon. Carolyn T. Carluccio is amazed by the reaction of the presenters. “I’ve heard everything from ‘I really loved that and can’t wait to come back’ to simply ‘OMG – that was super fun!’ I am so proud that my fellow bar members are clamoring for the opportunity to volunteer their time to give back to the community.” Judge Carluccio is equally enamored with the students: “they spend hours talking about the lessons and anticipating our next visit. They want to share their ideas and thoughts with us, which are often humorous and always insightful and creative.”
Regarding the future of the program, Judge Carluccio remarked: “with the enthusiasm and positive feedback we have received from the lawyers, judges, teachers and most importantly the students, I hope this program will become a hallmark of our bar association for years to come. I expect each year will bring new ideas and more participants allowing us to eventually reach more students in our community.” President Donald J. Martin, Esq. echoed those sentiments and assured that the program will continue under his tenure. “Judges, lawyers, teachers and kids – everyone loves the program. As I plan to focus on community outreach and service next year, Liberty & Law will be an important part of my presidency.”
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