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On April 25th, at its annual Awards Dinner, Street Law, Inc. will present its 2018 Educator of the Year Award to Mark Klarman, a history and humanities teacher at Vanguard High School in New York City. This award is given annually to an educator who teaches students in an exceptional manner and uses Street Law materials.
Mark began his career in the social services sector and the travel industry before becoming a public school teacher in 2003. He has spent his entire teaching career at Vanguard High School, a small high school in Manhattan where 96% of students are non-white and over 75% of students are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunch.
When it comes to teaching, Mark’s philosophy echoes Street Law’s mission. He views himself as an advocate for young people, seeking to empower them to become advocates for themselves and their communities. He hopes to affirm his students’ beliefs that their experiences and opinions are valid and worthy of expression and respect. In doing so, he has found that they rise to the occasion, recognizing that they possess the tools needed to participate in American civic life and bring about change.
Mark also ensures that his students put these tools to use. Just as Street Law believes in the importance of interactive, student-centered teaching, Mark believes in the importance of spending as little time “on stage” in the classroom as possible. His students take the lead, working collaboratively to interrogate difficult questions about American history, the Supreme Court, U.S. foreign policy, and many other topics.
The opportunities for Street Law-style teaching in Mark’s U.S. history classes are abundant, since Vanguard High School adheres to the performance-based assessment model that requires students to identify a topic of individual interest, organize and write a thesis-based research paper on that topic, and, finally, defend their thesis before an evaluation committee. Thanks in part to the school’s pedagogical philosophy and Mark’s excellent teaching, Vanguard High School graduates routinely report feeling an advantage over their college classmates when it comes to leading presentations before an audience.
The Supreme Court and its cases are integral parts of Mark’s teaching. Mark is a regular user of Street Law’s Landmark Cases materials, which provide educators with a full range of resources and activities to support the teaching of 17 historic Supreme Court cases. To further strengthen his teaching of Supreme Court cases, Mark attended the Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers in 2013. He credits this week-long Street Law-led professional development course as a transformative experience. Using the knowledge gained at the program, Mark helped to expand the legal component of Vanguard’s U.S. history curriculum.
Mark attended a Street Law Teaching for Civic Engagement Seminar in 2017. These seminars provide teachers like Mark with the opportunity to explore current issues in civics and government while practicing strategies for building students’ civic skills. He also serves as a charter member of Street Law’s Leadership Circle in an advisory role to the organization.
In light of his exceptional accomplishments and teaching philosophy, Street Law is proud to honor Mark Klarman with the 2018 Street Law Educator of the Year Award.