Virginia high school looks to Brandeis Law partnership with Central High School as model

Virginia high school looks to Brandeis Law partnership with Central High School as model

Professor Rothstein speaks with the high school students in the Allen Courtroom. Left to right, they are: Gabrielle Alston, Mahagoni Richardson, Makayla Rankin and Sierra Daniels.

A longstanding partnership between Brandeis Law and Louisville's Central High School has educated and influenced hundreds of students — and now the partnership is serving as a model of sorts for a Virginia high school.

Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia, is developing the Law and Public Safety Academy.

The academy will provide academic and technical courses needed for successful transition to postsecondary education and careers in professions that ensure the safety, security and wellness of the community, according to the high school. Upon graduation, students will have law and public safety literacy and other critical knowledge and skills that will prepare them for careers in law and public safety.

In June, Sherry Hildebrandt, a teacher at Bethel, was preparing to lead a group of four Bethel students to Louisville for the annual SkillsUSA conference. SkillsUSA is a national membership organization serving middle school, high school and college/postsecondary students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.

While researching their Louisville trip, Hildebrandt learned about the Central High School Partnershipan effort between Louisville’s Central High School and the Brandeis School of Law to promote diversity in the legal profession.

Hildebrandt contacted the law school to see if she could learn more about the partnership while she was in Louisville, and Professor Laura Rothstein, who has coordinated the program for the law school, was happy to meet with the group.

The visit included a tour of the law school and a discussion of how the program works.

As part of the tour, the students were shown the portrait of Justice Louis Brandeis by Rob Shetterly. Rothstein told the group that that Shetterly's daughter-in-law, Margot Lee Shetterly, was the author of Hidden Figures, the book that inspired the recent award-winning movie. Coincidentally, much of that story takes place in Hampton, Virginia. The visit sparked the interest of these young women in law and civic engagement.