Judge Thomas Connors ’68: Giving Back Through EHS’s Popular Legal & Protective Services Pathways Program.
“If you want to be a lawyer or a judge, you need to be able to think clearly and write well,” says retired Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Connors, a member of English High’s class of 1968.
Connors, who spent the last 25 years as a judge, is now giving back to his alma mater and the larger community. He has been named to EHSA’s Board of Directors and to the Advisory Panel of the Technical Pathways Program, one of the Boston Public Schools’ most unique and exciting programs, preparing students to be future leaders.
He fondly recalls his own English teachers from 50 years ago, Russell Langley, a Marine and Korean War vet, and Paul Hines, a Colonial history buff: “They stand out because they instilled in us the pursuit of excellence and pushed us to always go further.
He also credits Chess Team advisors Ulysses Shelton and Charles McGowen who taught him to think ‘a few moves ahead,’ and Edward Mosher, whose personal Colonial ancestry and Native American genealogy gave him a deep appreciation for the importance of knowing your roots and American history. It’s exciting to see teachers like that at EHS today.”
Connors is a guest lecturer in the Pathways Legal & Protective Services program at the invitation of instructor and attorney Chris Green. He says, “I’m introducing Constitutional Law and Trial Practice. I see how excited and appreciative students are to hear directly from a former attorney and judge who worked on crime and murder cases. Where else would they have this opportunity? I was impressed with student questions and was glad to learn that some of these first or second-generation students aspire to be lawyers. Pathways offers a real career path – It’s not abstract.”
One student chose the program “because I want to be a police officer, my lifelong dream.” EHS Head of School Caitlin Murphy emphasizes the “hands-on real-world experience – beyond textbooks — that prepares students for college and careers.”
There are five Pathways programs offering authentic learning experiences that mirror professional workplace environments while developing literacy and critical thinking skills. These 21st century skills engage students through hands-on, project or problem-based learning that teaches communication, goal setting, and collaboration; culminating in presentations that demonstrate each student’s academic growth and accomplishments. Guest speakers include SWAT team members, police cadets and EMTs. There’s access to paid internships as 911 dispatchers and the Boston Police.
The EHS Legal and Protective Services Program prepares students to enter the workforce in the area of public safety and the legal profession by challenging them academically and physically. Students earn certifications used in the legal field today including CPR, First Aid, OSHA and 911. The rigorous legal curriculum provides a competitive edge in a wide variety of criminal justice areas. Students learn legal theory and its application in real world scenarios.
Chris Green says students gain insight into the philosophies and disciplines of a variety of criminal justice areas such as effective communications, crime scene processing, criminal law and procedure, disaster preparedness, ethics, law enforcement, private investigations, and trial practice. Guest speakers like Tom Connors are especially helpful.