Yesterday, Council Member Mark Treyger announced that he had secured $1.25 million from the City Council to fund new courtroom classrooms at two Southern Brooklyn High Schools, part of Treyger’s work to expand career-based opportunities for students by providing physical experience in the field they specialize in – in this case – law and the criminal justice system.
“As a former teacher, I know that a courtroom classroom is not really on a checklist when folks from higher powers come in to see what’s happening in the school,” he said during a virtual conference yesterday announcing the funds. “But the fact that they’re making sure that our children see place-based learning, where they’re getting that type of exposure in their school communities, does make a difference.
While Mark Twain Middle School, Abraham Lincoln High School, and John Dewey High School all host rigorous legal programs, only Mark Twain has had a courtroom classroom.
According to Council Member Treygar, the courtroom classrooms are currently being designed, a process that takes a few months, and it will take up to another year to finish the installations. The classrooms will include new ceilings, lighting, and flooring, a jury stand and a judicial bench, audio and visual equipment, as well as new furnishings and furniture.
Mark Twain’s courtroom classroom was built in 2018 and was also part of Council Member Treyger’s career-based education campaign, for which he secured $180,000 to its construction two years ago.
Council Member Treyger hopes to give students hands-on career experience even before they enter high school, and he told us that “part of my hope and vision is to create continuity in the program.”
A former educator, Council Member Treyger is also the chair of the City Council’s Education Committee and has been determined to get more vocational training, hands-on opportunities for NYC students. Last December, he secured $4.6 million to construct a greenhouse at Rachel Carson High School for Coastal Studies, and in 2019, $3 million for a student kitchen at John Dewey High School that has made a huge difference in the education of so many students, including those with learning disabilities.
“I am all about expanding real-life experience for students,” he told us. “The more they are exposed to, the better.”
As part of their comprehensive legal academy tracks, Mark Twain, John Dewey High School, and Abraham Lincoln High School partner with the Justice Center and NYC law firms, through which students have access to internships and mentorships.
During the virtual conference yesterday, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced that his office will also begin to provide services for students from the three schools.
The New York City School Instruction Authority (SCA) will oversee the design and construction of the new classroom courtrooms.
Ari Hoogenboom, principal of Abraham Lincoln High School, expressed confidence in the campaign to help his school prosper. after undergoing safety concerns in the past.
“When you do a moot court in a classroom, it’s just not the same,” he said. “It’s like sending out a football team without the proper equipment. Council Member Treyger has given our law students the right equipment.”