David Nach is all about preparing kids for the future. He recently received the John J. Ross Memorial Award for Excellence in Law-Related Education to acknowledge his work in doing so.
The Mountain Pointe social studies teacher knew a colleague had nominated him for the award, but found out he won in an unexpected way.
"They didn't call me or anything, I was just browsing the website and went to ‘recent award winners,' and there I was," he said. "It was a surprise, a good surprise."
Nach was one of four winners of the annual award given out by the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education.
Nach does many things to show his students how their actions now could affect their future. For example, in his economics classes, he devotes time to talk about the dangers of getting a credit card at a young age.
"I tell them that credit is necessary and useful but it is also a way for banks to prey on college students," he said.
Nach also brings in bankruptcy lawyers and judges to speak with his class to talk about the wise use of credit cards.
"I want them to get a good idea of what goes on out there, when they leave for college," he said.
He runs the Mountain Pointe Teen Court Program, a program that puts real juvenile defenders who have pleaded guilty in the hands of his students. They conduct a trial and decide what the appropriate consequence will be.
"There's almost always community service and a letter written to the victim if there is one. The decision the students make is binding," Nach said. "Sometimes it is kids from the school, so the watchword here is ‘confidentiality.'"
Nach received his Juris Doctor from Arizona State University in 1992 and was certified by the State Bar of Arizona two years later. The decision to go into education and not become a lawyer, he said, was not a difficult one.
"I substitute taught for my mom during law school because I needed a part-time job," Nach said. "I really enjoyed myself. And my friends, after a year or two in the practice of law, they told me how disappointed they were in it. After deciding, I never reconsidered."
Nach teaches criminal justice, advanced placement economics and regular economics at Mountain Pointe.
Along with having judges, crime scene investigators, prosecutors and more as guest speakers, his criminal justice class takes an eye-opening field trip to a juvenile detention center during the course. They witness teens their own age in shackles, being led back to their cells.
"They see someone being admitted every year," Nach said. "There are a lot of emotions present when this happens. I think they imagine themselves in that spot and they feel lucky they aren't there."
In his economics classes, Nach does a short section in which he has his students sell things on the auction website, eBay. His goal is to show an example of a near-perfect market.
"Students take in all the information about how popular the item is, how much it has sold for, and they decide things like starting price, reserve price," Nach said. "There is no such thing as a perfect market, but eBay gives them a good idea of what it could look like."
He also makes a guarantee to all students who sign up with eBay during the class.
"I give them a lifelong guarantee to give them eBay advice," he said. "Yes, they do take me up on it."