Thursday, December 12, 2019

Students Making a Difference

By Chris Mortensen, Greenville Middle School Principal

As educators engaged in making the school the best that we hope it can be, we are continually looking for ways to improve what we do. We have spent time over the past few years meeting with parents through a Parent-Teacher Partnership initiative for the Middle School. Through these conversations, we have been able to identify areas where parents from all walks of life see needs for improvement in the way we do business as a building. We also identified methods for improving these areas during these discussions.

As we continued to move forward with these efforts in improvement, we determined that we needed to hear from our students about how we might improve the building and the work we do daily for them. We decided on a theme for the year of being “All In” and determined to engage our students in similar conversations as the parents for school improvement. We decided to meet with students from different groups from within the building. The staff provided names of students who might be willing to participate. From this group, selections of diverse students were chosen.

Students have been met with individually to inquire as to whether they had an interest in participating. Letters were sent home to parents requesting permission for the students to participate with us. All of the students returned the forms and we were ready to begin discussions.

In November, we had our first meeting with this group that we decided to call the Student-Principal Advisory Council (SPAC) group. These students now represent the student population in providing information on how we can make the climate of the school better. At our first meeting, the students were provided pizza and drinks and participated in some ice breakers for us to get to know the students and for the students to get to know us better. We played some small games where students shared about aspects of their own lives and discussed why they were interested in being a part of the group.

Before the end of our first meeting, we had learned a great deal about the students and identified that they all had an interest in making the school a better place. We finished our discussions with having the students share ideas that they had in mind to help improve the climate and mood within the building for all students. One aspect that they brought to the discussion was that they would like for the passing periods to be longer, so that students were able to reach their classes without feeling so rushed. They discussed specifically that students on the second floor had difficulty in making it to specials classes at the core of the building. It was shared that students felt stressed because of being late to classes.

Other ideas were presented and as we were running tight on time we tabled the ideas for our next meeting asking the students to check with their peers in order to bring more ideas for discussion. The group left with a plan and ideas on who they wanted to get information from.

The administration shared this information with the Building Leadership and Positive Behavior Teams. It was discussed as to how this would impact the building class schedule. At this time, the discussion is still occurring on whether this adjustment will be able to be implemented in the future, but it was so impressive seeing young students engaged in leadership roles to improve the building community. They are gaining skills to identify needs and methods for seeking change to provide improvement for all and not just for themselves. Our students are “All In” for making Greenville Middle School the best place for students to learn every day and we are proud of each of them.


Chris Mortensen
Principal @ Greenville Middle School 7/8

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