The 3Rs Program calls upon team of volunteers to go to the social studies classrooms for seven seperate sessions between November and May of each school year to work with small groups of students to accomplish the following goals:
- Improve understanding of and respect for the rule of law and our Constitution
- Increase interest in civic and governmental issues
- Provide practical career counseling to focus students on their potential beyond high school
- Improve the "pipeline" of minorities flowing into legal careers in the region
Each classroom will have a team leader and five group leaders who will each work with a group of five to six students throughout the seven-month program. Ottawa Hills has five Freshmen Social Studies classes, which means we will be working with at least 30 volunteers. The volunteers will receive training and will utilize a prepared lesson plan for each session that places an emphasis on student participation. The students will be evaluated on their achievements in the program.
The program comes at a critical time in our society, a time where civics education is becoming an afterthought in the face of the need for proficiency in math and science in order for the schools to meet the requirements of “No Child Left Behind” and other educational mandates. While these mandates may assist in accomplishing their stated goals, we simply cannot risk an education system that could leave our young ones without the education and tools necessary to be fully functioning citizens in our democratic society. They need to know how our system of government works and what role they can play in our legislative process.
In addition to the benefits that flow from the educational component of the program, the program will assist in the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative’s pipeline development activities by placing every freshman student in frequent contact with a member of the legal profession. Two of the sessions are entirely devoted to practical career counseling. The students will learn much more about the opportunities available in the legal profession than they may know from television or from encounters with the law enforcement or domestic relations sides of the system most typically encountered in their day to day life. Furthermore, they will learn that one does not have to come from a family of lawyers or professionals to become a lawyer and that regardless of their roots there can be a place in the law for them.
More than ever, Grand Rapids Public School students need the personal involvement of the community to help them maximize their potential. The success of these students and the success of our region are mutually dependent. The Grand Rapids legal community is well-positioned to make a positive impact through volunteer commitment to the 3Rs Program.