A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in the 1st Annual BOOK Education Summit in Atlanta. It was simply amazing! I had the honor of being the Moderator for the Student Engagement Panel that joined together the voices of middle school to college scholars. I contacted the organizers to see if I could bring my student panel as a part of the summit and they agreed. It was a great partnership. The scholars participated in and shared their views on the state of education in Georgia. This also became a culture field trip for my Latin College Prep SGA leaders in which I serve as the SGA Adviser and Dean of School Culture.
Here’s why I believe that student engagement plays a key role in school culture, student life and family engagement:
I’ve found that school culture is ultimately defined by the character of the scholars. Our goal as Educators and parents is to work together to help guide our scholars through the process. When our scholars are left out of the process, that’s when failure begins. We must stop developing and using best practices when we’re not even asking the people we’re trying to help what they need. I’ve found success in empowering scholars to help build culture. I’ve done that through parenting with the student life and family & community engagement departments. Implementing the SGA, Student Government Association , to empower student leadership in culture building, student activities, restorative justice and community engagement. The culture of the school determines the level of academic and social success of the scholars.
There is more to school that academics! Yes, school is the hub for academia but it’s also the core of social consciousness, civic engagement and social development. This area saved many of us when coming through school. Counseling services, graduation and college readiness and student activities. It was organizations like the SGA, BETA Club, National Honors Society, Debate, Newspaper, Yearbook, Media Team and many more that paved the way for our personalities to come front and center. Students need balance just as much as they want discipline and structure. Student Life and activities help to share children into well-rounded individuals. Student life gives voice the student body. It empowers students to take their seat at the decision-making table where the true work of school turn around begins.
In order for us to engage families, we must first engage students. Students are the key to getting families in the doors of the school and actively connected. Parents will become engage through the child(res). It’s our job to help connect the dots. As we empower student engagement we reinforce the need for family engagement. The more we empower students to take an active role in their educational journey, we openly welcome families to become engaged. The engagement of our student is the heart of the school.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.