LAWS Program Raises the Bar

November 1, 2006
Toronto District School Board

LAWS was recently featured on the Toronto District School Board’s website:

Students and teachers of the Law in Action within School (LAWS) Program at Central Technical School and Harbord Collegiate Institute are looking forward to a second successful year.

The primary focus of the partnership with the University of Toronto (U of T) Faculty of Law is to help Grade 10 applied and academic students achieve success in their post-secondary pursuits by incorporating law and justice themes into English, Science, History, Math, Civics, and Careers programs.

The first of its kind in Canada, the LAWS program surpassed its initial expectations by providing students with after-school tutoring by Faculty of Law students, job-shadowing of various legal professions, as well as paid summer placements at legal firms.

The result? As U of T LAWS Director Alexis Archbold noted, “Students enrolled in LAWS responded positively to the program. Teachers reported a noticeable improvement in class attendance and participation.”

The LAWS job shadowing and summer placement program has been very inspiring to the academic pursuits of participating students. “I learned a lot about myself. I know now that if I really put my mind to something and truly focus, that I can accomplish that job. It gave me a little boost of confidence with whatever I try,” said one eager student.

Teachers have started to notice the benefits to their students. “As a teacher, I’ve never seen a program like it,” said Central Tech English teacher Chris Chandler. “As well as reading various works of literature, students are also studying intellectual property and copyright, hate speech and the Charter of Rights, as well as the ethics of reproductive technologies and stem cell research.”

And teachers have also been enjoying the added value it brings to their teaching. “Judges coming into classrooms – where else does that happen? As a law teacher, the enrichment in resources is phenomenal,” said Central Tech Law teacher Frank Porco.

Students also had the opportunity to attend workshops involving lawyers, actors, professors, and journalists. The Centre for Forensic Science, the Ontario Science Centre, the Ontario Justice System, and Toronto Parks and Recreation were involved in the planning and implementation of a number of subject-related field trips that students have enjoyed. After a field trip to the Old City Hall court house, one grade 10 student reported: “I was so captivated by the trial that I stayed longer than the field trip so I could watch the rest.”

This year, one of the highlights of the program’s expansion is an interactive website designed by the Faculty of Law that will feature program information and dates, teaching resources, blogs, as well as student projects.

Finally, the response of parents to the Grade 11 LAWS program has been enthusiastic and positive. Mr. Narro, whose son is enrolled in LAWS said: “It’s a great idea for young people to get an idea of what the real world outside of school life is like. I’m really, really impressed.”

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