Each May, The New Rochelle Bar Association, an organization founded in 1921 which has a membership of approximately 200 local lawyers, judges and related professionals, conducts basic Constitutional Law classes throughout the New Rochelle elementary school system. This year, twenty-five volunteer attorneys and judges, including New Rochelle City Court Judge Susan Kettner, are donating approximately 200 hours of time to teach fifth grade students the fundamentals of The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The program begins in April with a two hour training session for the volunteers conducted by Joyce Furfero, an attorney and a professor at St. John’s University and Corey Andrews, a veteran teacher at Ward Elementary School, who designed the curriculum. The classroom sessions, conducted over a four week period, from May through early June, are enthusiastically received by the students, teachers and school administrators. In addition to the generous donation of time by attorney volunteers, the New York State Bar Association, which has awarded the program its “Innovation Award,” donated 750 copies of the United States Constitution books to the 5th graders throughout the city and Frank Miceli of Minuteman Press, President of the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce, donated 750 custom designed, suitable for framing "Certificates of Completion" which are handed to the students by the volunteer lawyers at the end of the sessions.
Ronald Zezima, Vice-President of the New Rochelle Bar Association and Director of the program, stated that in an effort to recruit additional attorney volunteers, and specifically minority lawyers who could serve as role models to the large number of minority students in the New Rochelle public schools, the Bar reached out to the Westchester County Black Bar Association and recruited several enthusiastic volunteers who, while not members of the New Rochelle Bar, generously donated their time to the project.
Last year, the New Rochelle Bar was honored to receive a letter from retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who initiated the iCivics curriculum on which the Lawyer In the Courtroom program is based. The Justice stated "It has always been our hope that iCivics will inspire others to foster strong relationships between the legal profession and the classroom. Thank you for informing me of your initiative and I look forward to hearing about the continued success of this important work".
New Rochelle’s Superintendent of Schools, Brian Osborne stated “Through this program, our students not only receive excellent exposure to the law and its practical implications in their lives, they also benefit from the direct connection to practicing lawyers in their community who take a special interest in them and their growth. As Superintendent, I am grateful for and impressed by the New Rochelle Bar Association’s involvement in our schools”.
The members of the New Rochelle Bar have a long history of involvement in the community and welcome suggestions, comments and inquiries, which can be directed to Hon. Jeffrey Levin, President of the New Rochelle Bar Association.