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Court accepting applications for its ‘law school for teachers’

Senior Editor News in Photos

The Florida Supreme Court is looking for a few good educators.

Applications are being accepted for the 2020 Florida Supreme Court Training Institute, or “CTI.”

Justice LawsonFlorida Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson notes that the internationally recognized, law-related education training program is more popularly known as “law school for teachers.”

“We really hope that all Florida lawyers and judges will help us get the word out about this amazing training opportunity for government and social studies teachers in public and private secondary schools,” Justice Lawson said. “The Court Teacher Institute was first organized in 1997 and has developed an international reputation over the years as a model for civics education.”

The program is geared toward middle- and high-school educators who are currently teaching civics, law, American government, history, or similar subjects. The next class of between 20 and 25 teachers will be held April 19-23 in Tallahassee. The deadline for applications is October 31.

Participants get a rare opportunity to interact with the seven justices charged with interpreting the Florida Constitution and administering the nation’s third-largest court system.

Justice Polston with teachersDuring the most recent CTI in February, Chief Justice Charles Canady lectured about the structure, function, and funding of the state court system, and associate justices spoke on topics ranging from judicial independence and judicial selection to Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizures.

Jeffrey Van Treese II, an attorney-turned-teacher and an instructor at the Law Academy at Palm Beach Lakes Community High School, said the program left him with “a more intimate understanding of the Supreme Court and how justices hear and decide cases.”

Teachers at the Florida Supreme Court Training InstituteMichael Rogers, an instructor from Lake Asbury Junior High School in Green Cove Springs, called it “liberating to witness the checks and balances that are built-in to each layer of our judicial system.”

Participants spend the better part of a week on an intensive legal track that is also facilitated by award-winning educators who offer strategies for teaching about the courts.

The class follows a “trail of justice” that leads from the development of a case through trial and appeals, and includes visits to a circuit court and a state appellate court.

Teacher participants are assigned to recreate an argument in a real case pending before the Florida Supreme Court, and then watch the actual attorneys argue the same case before the justices.

Justice Lagoa with teachersParticipants receive a fellowship to cover expenses. For more information about the program and applications, go to www.floridasupremecourt.org/Visiting-the-Court/Supreme-Court-Teacher-Institute/.

Graduates earn a certificate signed by each justice and the title, “Fellow of the Florida Supreme Court Teacher Institute.”

“In the program’s 22-year history, becoming a CTI Fellow has become a sought-after distinction for teachers in the broader fields of social studies,” said Florida Supreme Court chief spokesman Craig Waters.