The South Atlanta School of Law and Social Justice hosted an open house on Thursday evening for its second-year teen court program. This program provides a peer-driven alternative to traditional school discipline that empowers student participants and raises the bar of accountability for student behavior and academic success.
Freshman Lauren Poe learned about the program when she was an eighth-grader last year at Long Middle School. She’s looking forward to using the program to prepare for a legal career, something she only could have gotten in this new, small-school atmosphere. (Here the complete interview here. Also, listen to Judge Kimani King here.)
“The program is a fun and exciting way to learn more about law,” Poe said. “For those of us who want to venture out into a career as lawyers, court clerks, paralegals … this program has helped me set my path. … The small-school [approach] is a close-knit bond of students. The teacher student ratio is really small so you can interact with the teachers.”
Indeed, the South Atlanta School of Law and Social Justice represents one of a new generation of small theme-based high schools in Atlanta Public Schools. With a smaller student body of approximately 300 students and unique curriculum, APS is transforming the high school experience. The Teen Court Program trains student attorneys, clerks and jurors to try cases involving their peers. This provides a dual benefit by training students in courtroom procedure while ensuring that students learn to take responsibility for their actions.
The school also sports a mock-trial team.
“I see some great things because we’re really cultivating some young talent,” said David Martin, a South Atlanta social studies instructor who teaches law courses. “We want to be the next Grady in the Atlanta public school system in terms of mock-trial competition.” (Here the complete interview here.)
Check out Media Production Manager Scott C. King’s photo gallery here.)