MONTVILLE, NJ - Montville Township Police Department Detective Scott McGowan, who also serves as a Montville Township Public Schools’ School Resource Officer and Anthony Iemmello, a retired Detective of the Newark Police Department, spoke with students from Montville Township High School’s new Criminal History classes. The two special guests met with students and teachers in a virtual meeting on Friday, January 15, 2021.
Criminal History is a brand-new criminal studies course, introduced at MTHS for the 2020-2021 academic year. It is a year-long course for grades 10, 11 and 12. Criminal History is focused on helping students develop an understanding of crime through the context of history. Students study how crimes are investigated, how deductive reasoning is used to solve crime, and how investigative techniques have changed. The Criminal History classes are taught by MTHS Social Studies teachers Stephanie Bongiovanni and James McManus. Bongiovanni, McManus and Supervisor of Humanities, David Tubbs wrote the course’s curriculum this past summer. It is a complimentary course to the district’s very popular Criminology course.
In preparation for Detectives McGowan and Iemmello’s virtual visits, students submitted a long list of questions. The two Detectives answered at length, discussing everything from why they joined law enforcement to what piece of technology they wish existed to help them solve crimes.
“Criminal History examines specifically how committing, solving, and prosecuting crime has changed over time,” Bongiovanni said.
“Both of the detectives were thoughtful, encouraging, engaging, and incredibly interesting,” added McManus.
The virtual visit actually took place at a specified time after class, which allowed students from all classes to attend simultaneously. In this way, speakers only had to give one presentation for students.
“We had a good number of students attend,” McManus explained, “but the cool part is that we recorded the session so students who weren’t able to attend will then be able to watch it later. I think this is one of the few benefits of virtual school; it allows experts to come from anywhere and talk to a large group of students without leaving the comfort of their own offices!”
Retired detective Iemmello is the father of Alexandra Iemmello, an MTHS English teacher. She mentioned her dad would be happy to talk with the students. Bongiovanni coordinated the event, for the students and speakers, and moderated the presentation to connect it to the curriculum.
Next the Criminal History team plans to invite prosecutors and defense attorneys for the unit on prosecutions. The Criminology course, taught by MTHS Social Studies teachers Ken MacIver and Stefanie San Filippo, will also feature guest speakers over the next few months.
“Should be really fun!” McManus said. “I really like the fact that our two crime-related courses (and indeed all of our department’s electives) are focused on preparing students for adulthood and exploring real world careers.”
The purpose of the Criminology course is to gain a clear understanding of the causes of crime, its consequences, and an accurate knowledge of the workings of the nation's criminal justice system. An examination of past and current case studies allow students to analyze legal issues, debate procedures, and predict outcomes as they collaborate to apply learning to real-life situations within the American Criminal Justice System.