Miami Law alumnus Joel Rose, JD '98, is the brainchild behind School of One – a New York based program that has taken the traditional educational system by storm with its out-of-the box and even abstract approach to teaching. The School of One curriculum customizes the classroom to meet the intellectual needs of each student.
Now, Rose – a Miami-Dade resident who went from teacher to law school graduate to game changer – returned to his alma mater on November 23 to discuss "Putting Your Law Degree to Work in a Non-Legal Career."
Rose knows firsthand how to leverage his legal knowledge in non-related fields. School of One was an instant success when it launched in the summer of 2009 in Chinatown, earning a spot in Time magazine's top 50 inventions of the year for radicalizing the conventional classroom. The program has essentially 390 approaches for teaching each student based on their unique learning abilities.
Rose always had a passion for teaching. In 1988, he was the high school student representative at the School Board. It was then that he began to see disparities between underserved schools. He wanted to change that.
For three years, he worked as Corps Member for Teach for America. He found himself frustrated with the educational system's ineffective approach to teaching students.
"I didn't want to be a cog in the broken wheel," Rose said. "I knew I wanted to be a part of the educational reform movement, and I knew that a law degree would facilitate that."
He also saw having a law degree as a way to expedite the process. He calculated moving up in the ranks within the school system – for example, moving from teacher to a top position within the school district – could take 25 years; law school only takes three.
While enrolled at Miami Law, Rose was a Dean's Fellow and interned for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami after his first year of law school. The following summer, he was a summer associate at Davis Polk & Wardell in New York City.
Upon graduation, he focused again on education and eventually became the NYC Department of Education's Chief Executive for Human Capital.
Even though Rose isn't actively serving as a lawyer, he says he still uses his legal knowledge every day.
"Because we're working with software, I need to be aware of intellectual property law; administrative law, given that this work is being done entirely with a public agency; labor law, given that what we're doing has meaningful implications for teachers; contract law, because we have many contractual partners," he said. "There are startups and regulations that impact our work that I need to understand and policies that need changing. Being able to understand those things, and talk about them, is vital to our success."