By Sandra Pedersen
Following the unexpected departure of the previous Business Law teacher, MIHS admins have been working to find someone to fill the position.
After hearing about the position from her daughter, Jocelyn Barber picked up the curriculum mid-quarter.
“The kids had been doing things a certain way in the classroom and there was definitely anxiety around that,” Barber said. “But now I think we are in a good place, so we are forging ahead.”
Barber grew up in South Africa, where she formed a soft spot for the wildlife and safaris. She earned her law degree at the University of Washington, tutoring students in an Introduction to Management class before graduating.
At first, Barber worked in health, safety and corporate law in South Africa, before moving to Philadelphia. After five years, Barber moved again, becoming a law teacher in London where she fell in love with education. Now on Mercer Island, Barber is excited to continue teaching.
After working in law for about 20 years, Barber loves every aspect of law.
“I think there’s a whole social justice aspect of law where one can be of help in the community,” Barber said. “I’ve always just really found interest in the cases. I enjoy writing up opinions about things or doing research in the law.”
Currently, Barber only teaches one class at MIHS, but hopes to teach more soon.
She plans to take her students to witness a court case in order to showcase different parts of law and stray away from the glamorization TV shows place on certain aspects of the field.
“It’s a nice opportunity to give kids the chance to see if [law] is something they might like to pursue, because once you do get into law there are so many different things you can do,” Barber noted.
With a list of guest speakers and many lessons already prepared, Barber takes pride in her work.
“I enjoy the challenge of making the classes fun and exciting,” Barber said. “I like to always try and improve my own game, and I think to really grab the kids’ attention, it has to be engaging and fun for kids to really be learning.”
At Barber’s last school, there was an increased amount of pressure on students. In the UK, students only take three subjects during their junior and senior years in preparation for a final exam that covers two years of material.
“I really like being able to deck the curriculum to what I think kids find interesting, as opposed to being told by an external examining body,” Barber said. “Your whole grade is based on one exam, so if you have a bad day that’s really tough.”
“I like the system here, where there’s a chance for kids to earn grades in participation, presentations, tests [and] assignments: it’s more fair for some students who might not fit as well in an exam condition.”
Barber stresses the importance of taking a law class in school and how it would be a worthwhile class for all students as it provides an understanding of what consequences follow laws.
“I think it’s super important for all kids to get a taste of law,” Barber said. “I would love [for] all kids do a module on law in high school so that they can really understand the consequences for certain behaviors.”
Passionate about law education, Barber is eager to continue teaching.
“I feel very privileged to be able to share my knowledge with students,” Barber said. “It’s a nice opportunity to give kids a taster of law.”