You recently joined the Pollyanna Board of Trustees as a junior trustee. What are you hoping your voice brings to meeting discussions and future planning?
I think that I will bring a unique voice to the Board…the student one. The Pollyanna conferences are in large part geared toward making a change for students. It’s one thing for administrators to discuss the issues, but as a student, I have seen the problems first hand. I’ve experienced the social interactions that happen when there are only students in the room. Students sometimes say one thing when a teacher is present, but something else when they’re not.
I also bring the perspective of a different generation. This is important because each generation has its own unique mentality, ideas, etc., and these should be considered when designing events and classes geared for my generation.
As part of the Allen-Stevenson POD as a student, can you describe the feelings you had when you met as a group to discuss action steps with administrators, alumni, diversity practitioners, faculty, parents, and trustees?
I was in Seventh Grade when I joined the Allen-Stevenson POD. It gave me a real feeling of empowerment since all the voices are equal in the room on this occasion. I also realized that our conversation meant that things could really get done…that the discussion could be continued to help us get to be a better, more inclusive school. It occurred to me that I can help make a difference and be there from the start.
Younger students are meant to be heard. However, there’s a fear amongst little kids that they can’t speak up to adults. The POD provides a forum for this discussion and all eyes are on the
in the POD. Everyone wants to hear what the students have to say, so I knew I could be honest, and that my voice would be respected.
You also joined students on stage from several schools for the student presentation to all the schools in attendance. What was your message and what did you hope to achieve?
Well…I actually had an idea. I explained that I thought students should have the ability to choose their school advisors. Everyone in our student group at the conference had an issue with the advisor they were assigned, so I realized it wasn’t just my school’s problem. A lot of advisors just didn’t seem to understand their advisees.
Usually, a student is assigned an advisor. I have found that the advisors I usually get along best with are the ones who have similar interests or experiences to me. There is more equity in specifically choosing your advisor and you can build a stronger bond with someone with whom you can relate. Moreover, advisors can be better advocates for students they better understand. One idea is to have every teacher, staff member or administrator be an advisor to say, three students. The advisor could be from a completely different grade or not even be a teacher. That person is there as a mentor and someone a student can turn to for advice. I hoped that by putting this point out there that heads of schools would hear this and take it into consideration.