Northern Lights School Division (NLSD) will introduce a new program, Student Voice, designed to open communication between students, teachers, senior administration; such as the Superintendent, and the board. The program is newly developed by NLSD, modeled from Assistant Superintendent Ron Taylor’s experience at schools in British Columbia.
Assistant Superintendent Taylor has worked over the past few months speaking with teachers, board members, and students to develop a three-tiered communication system. Where a diverse group of students would hold meeting and discuss issues they feel the senior administration and board should be aware of and help solve. They would come up with an action plan and then present to the Superintendent, Roy Ripkens, and the Taylor, who would in turn present to the board.
The board and Superintendent Ripkens where involved in the designing of the program, explains Taylor, “the board and Superintendent spoke with a wide range of students and teachers from across the jurisdiction to help develop student voice.” Taylor is very proud to be able to bring the program to NLSD, “it is one of the programs that I have personally worked with and I do know the strengths of the program.”
The idea behind Student Voice is to hear from the students themselves what areas need adjusting, Taylor gives an example from his former school in BC, “we had the pose coming in to try to recruit kids. The kids asked, ‘can we get some supervision in the smoking area?’.” Taylor explains the smoking area, like most high schools, was off-site and a typical response would have been, “don’t go out there.” But thanks to Student Voice, staff were aware of the threat and that simply “don’t go out there” wasn’t an option. The staff started a regular check of the smoking area. “The staff decided, because of the students, to add extra security for their safety.”
“Student Voice is a full cycle, the students need to feel like they are being heard, and they need to know what’s happening [by the board or senior administration].”
The board moved to carry out Student Voice in division middle and high schools. The first step will be a workshop on October 22nd, were select students and parents will attend, along with senior administration and board members. After the workshop, students will volunteer, or be offered a position on the Student Voice committees. They will hold regular meetings throughout the school year, then in May a synonymous will be held to determine how successful the program was and if any changes are needed to make the program more successful for the following school year.