MTSS Spotlight: High school students have crash course in justice system

By Kayleigh Rahn
With dozens of hit TV shows highlighting the thrilling aspects of the criminal justice system, more than 30 Tuscola Community High School students are taking an in-depth look at justice and forensics careers during the Multi-Tiered System of Support advisory period.

The class that meets Tuesdays and Thursdays doesn’t apply to graduation credit but is part of the tiered process that provides support or enrichment to meet the students’ needs. Of course, the MTSS days have been most oft discussed publicly as over the last three school semesters, as students have been dismissed at 2 p.m. one Wednesday each month to allow educators additional time to discuss and study intervention initiatives using student testing and grading data.

While some students receive extra course work in math and English based on their needs, others meet in groups to learn about subjects or skills outside of the required curriculum at TCHS. Each student was able to select from a list of enrichment options to attend twice each week through the 2018-2019 school year, which is where the most popular advisory period, Criminal Justice and Forensics, fits into the school day.

Science teacher Paula Linker leads the class at the school library–where the class was moved to accommodate the high interest from students–along with support from library assistant Marci Shoemaker and Douglas County State’s Attorney Kate Watson.

Linker previously taught a forensics course in her former teaching role in Charleston, and with community and school administration support she was able to translate her experience to the Tuscola MTSS platform.

The initial idea for the class grew from a conversation between Watson and the high school counselors following last spring’s Chris Herron visit. The former NBA ballplayer spoke to Douglas County students and community members about his battle with a heroin addiction and his years of sobriety. Following the Herron visit, students responded in unexpected numbers, which prompted Watson began to speak with school counselors and administration about continuing the conversation in the classroom.

The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Dec. 12 edition of The Tuscola Journal.

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