Ask Them and They Will Tell Us... Visioning Today for Tomorrow's Future: Student Voices Matter

 
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Over a three-year period, the District’s Visioning Task Force designed a plan to activate student voices in the creation of new Vision, Mission, and Values Statements to inspire and guide our work as an educational organization. The Task Force comprised of Stakeholders, including seven students, parents, trustees, teachers, support staff, school and district administrators, and senior team. Our 21,000 elementary and secondary students were invited to share their stories, thoughts, images and artifacts from provocation questions such as “If you had a crystal ball, what would you imagine school to be like in the future?” “How would you describe a great school to your younger brothers and sisters?” “What advice would you give trustees/superintendents/principals/teachers to enhance students’ learning and thinking?”

The District collected videos, photos, and physical artifacts from our students and displayed them at a District-wide Café, Visioning Today for Tomorrow’s World. Invited students, parents, stakeholders, and community members were excited to attend the Café to hear students’ stories, see students’ artifacts, and review students’ photos and videos as stimuli to identify key words, phrases and images to help develop the new District Vision, Mission and Value Statements.

Once these three inspiring statements were approved by the Board of Education, a District-wide Poster Contest was launched to invite students in elementary and secondary schools to create a visual that represented the new vision statement. The Vision poster, comprised of the Vision, Mission, and Values Statements along with the winning visual, is now proudly displayed in every classroom, office, and public space throughout the Richmond School District. Furthermore, all members of the Richmond School District community have been invited to engage in regular discussions about these statements and to live them in our schools, workplaces and community.

To signify our commitment to the new vision statement, “the Richmond School District is the best place to learn and lead,” the District piloted a number of leadership initiatives this Fall to enhance the creation of a district-wide leadership culture. The leadership initiatives for student leadership development align with the British Columbia Ministry of Education’s new curriculum and specifically to the focus on “personal and social competencies as a set of abilities that relate to students' identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society.” In addition, these leadership initiatives complement the existing student leadership programs at the school and district levels as well as emphasize the Know-Do-Understand model of learning.

Thus, to underscore this Know-Do-Understand model of learning, the Richmond School District is thrilled to collaborate with The Art Of to provide 190 secondary students and 30 educators with a special opportunity to attend the April 5th Art of Leadership for Women Conference as a launch to a 3-Part Student Leadership Development Series. Part 2 of the Series will focus on knowing and learning more about leadership practices and social action projects while Part 3 of the Series will be a Showcase Sharing of the Social Action Projects students have designed and implemented in their schools and community. With the inspiration of Malala Yousafzai as the anchor keynote at the Conference, this leadership pilot between the Richmond School District and The Art Of will catalyze and leverage our 10 secondary schools’ student leadership programs. We are grateful that the two student winners of the essay contest will have an opportunity to meet with Malala and that a few students’ leadership questions will be posed to the panel of speakers at the Conference.

Thank YOU to The Art Of for this opportunity to collaborate and to pilot this 3-Part Student Leadership Development Series this Spring! Thank YOU to the students and staff who are actively engaged in this learning and leading process with the ultimate goal of empowering students to take positive social actions to make the world a better place for all!

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