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Nutley Police Station

Police In The Community: Changing The Learning Game

Throughout the decades, Nutley High School has created numerous electives for students to be educated on topics that intrigue them.  These electives are an escape from their core classes and give students a chance to branch out and try something new. No matter the elective, students would always hold their breath to see if they got into the elective of their choice or got deferred to their second choice. 


NHS has many electives ranging from different topics and studies. Many electives have come and gone, while others have always held their spot on the elective sheet. This upcoming school year, a new elective made its way on the roster. 


During the history department's program review the teachers wrapped their brains on a  new elective that would be both entertaining and educational. They felt it would be beneficial to have a class with a similar concept to Criminal Justice due to the popularity of the class. They felt something that coincided with that class would be best. A lightbulb sparked in their minds and from there the  Police In The Community elective began to come to life. 


Although before they could fully start prepping for the class they needed to make sure it was something the students would be interested in. A survey was sent out to students on electives they would be interested to take if given the opportunity. The survey had a good amount of options and Police In The Community was the elective with the majority of votes. 


The process was a long one, but it was worth it. “Every few years, our department has an opportunity to go through a program review.  Part of that is determining if there is student interest in new electives.  Police and the Community was shown to be very popular among students in this survey.  Our department also foresees this course as an opportunity to expand the interdisciplinary law and justice connections that already exist between departments at Nutley High School,”  Jennifer Stine, NHS social studies teacher, explained. 


Jennifer Stine is no stranger to NHS electives. She has taught at NHS for 18 years and teaches Sociology and U.S History ll, and, in the past, has taught the other history classes as well. She is a large part of the History department and was a big part of creating this elective. Stine is going to run the course and be the main teacher for it. Robert Porrino, who is the teacher for Criminal Justice and AP History, will also assist her with ideas for topics, special guests, and field trips. 


Mrs. Stine has always had a love for all things history-related. When asked how she feels about this elective and the topics it will cover she stated, “I think the course will fit nicely into the social studies department’s current offerings while providing students with some exposure to the history and current trends of community policing.  I hope that the course will provide students with an academic experience that connects to Intro to Criminal Justice while also possibly preparing them for criminal justice courses outside of NHS.”


With this course, Mrs. Stine hopes to cover the history of police, as well as how the job has changed throughout the years. It will also go over the main functions of the police, and how the criminal justice system functions. When asked what the students will be educated on in the course, Mrs. Stine stated, “Students will consider the trends in policing approaches over time with a focus on the contemporary features of community policing efforts.  Students will recognize the complex challenges that our communities face and how policing interacts with those challenges.”


Mrs. Stine would also like to implement exciting activities within this course to give the students a better understanding of the course while also enjoying it. “I’m looking to infuse field trips, when possible, guest speakers and use of media tools where appropriate,” Mrs. Stine stated. 


The course looks promising for students, and many have already chosen it on their elective sheet. “I hope that students will find the elective relevant and as an opportunity to understand the complex challenges that our communities face.  I hope students enjoy the course during the first year and that interest increases during future school years,” Mrs. Stine said. 


At the current moment, Mrs. Stine is in the process of preparing for this course and getting everything ready for the upcoming school year. “I am currently in the planning and preparation phase. The curriculum will be approved this summer,” Mrs. Stine explained.


 Although, it is still unclear if this class will be offered to freshmen and sophomores or only juniors and seniors. 


Mrs. Stine is looking forward to a year of enjoyment as well as education. She hopes the course is popular and helps the students grasp a better understanding of Police In The Community.