Columbia Law School Hosts Young Eisner Scholars Program

The NYC YES program recently completed summer sessions at William C. Warren Hall

By Kelly Carroll

Fall 2013

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Earlier this year, the Young Eisner Scholars (YES) program expanded to New York City, with Columbia Law School serving as a resource to help facilitate its growth.

Columbia University asked YES founder Eric Eisner ’73 to bring his program to the New York City public school district covering Central Harlem in the autumn of 2012. He quickly accepted the invitation, recruiting longtime friend and educator Zachary Susskind as program director. In March of this year, the pair began meeting with seventh- and eighth-grade students from Columbia Secondary School, the Frederick Douglass Academy, Renaissance Leadership Academy, the John H. Finley School, and the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change. By April, approximately two-dozen children were selected to participate.

For the remainder of the academic year, Susskind led weekday sessions with the students in their respective schools, as well as Saturday meetings at Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall. Academic sessions at NYC YES are focused on “literate math thinking,” a way of using math to improve students’ language skills and thought processing. According to Susskind, students learn to become more precise and accurate in their language usage as they explain their way through difficult word problems.

In mid-July, Susskind began hosting these academic sessions at the Law School, where meeting space was made available so that NYC YES students had the room necessary to work both individually and in groups. NYC YES also had access to projectors, screens, and white boards, so that Susskind and his students were able to collaborate on exercises in a seminar-type setting.

“In terms of providing the space and being so open and hosting us, [this partnership has] been spectacular,” Susskind says.

NYC YES further expanded this past August with the addition of Program Manager Justin Hicks. And, this month, one of the very first Young Eisner Scholars, Chris Bonilla ’16, began his legal studies in Morningside Heights, further linking YES and the Law School. Bonilla graduated from Columbia College in 2009 and worked with YES in Los Angeles before returning to New York City to pursue his law degree.

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Eric Eisner '73 and Chris Bonilla '16

Photographed by Max S. Gerber