Tagged “Student Voice”

Strong Community Connectedness Builds Confidence

Clayfield College, Clayfield, Queensland, Australia

Clayfield College is a preK–12 day and boarding school located in the Brisbane suburbs that offers a safe and supportive learning environment, where personal excellence is encouraged. Students come from diverse cultural backgrounds, have varied ability levels, and receive quality teaching and learning within a broad and engaging curriculum, including academic and vocational pathways. Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, students experience a strong feeling of belonging to the community and, through participation in activities, build greater confidence and develop and strengthen relationships; staff feel respected and valued; and parents, families, and members of the community are viewed as vital pieces of the jigsaw.

School Organizes to Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Wagga Wagga Christian College, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia

Recognized as a MindMatters School in 2011 by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute, Wagga Wagga Christian College is a coeducational K–12 school which fosters a family environment that develops responsibility and trust between peers and multi-aged young people. In 2007, the faculty determined the need to develop a welfare system to be proactive and responsive, not reactive. As a result the school has refined its transition programs, building stronger links with parents and the community beyond the school; expanded its student leadership program, empowering students at all levels of leadership; and implemented resilience programs, highlighting the safe use of social networks, cyberbullying, and sex education and relationships. Feedback is sought at parent association meetings about the mental health and well-being programs that could be implemented for students and parents.

Learning by Doing, Part of a Challenging Curriculum

Quest Early College High School, Humble, Tex.

A personalized and nurturing learning experience for all students is the foundational goal at Quest Early College High School—winner of the 2011 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award—in Humble, Tex.

Through community partnerships and collaborations, students learn by doing by taking part in service learning, internships, and social actions that allow them to understand the relevance of what they learn. Students to take ownership of their own learning by designing their own physical fitness goals and activities, beginning college coursework that can earn them up to 60 college credits while in high school, and designing their own senior capstone research projects that reflect a social issue that has personal meaning.

Connecting Students to Their Community and Beyond

Northport High School, Northport, N.Y.

Students at Northport High School in Northport, N.Y., are intent on making a difference in the world. A large part of the school's culture centers on a strong sense of civic engagement that lends to students being connected and involved in the school's academic and social life; serving local community needs; and participating in advocacy, global awareness, and social-development projects.

With a challenging and diverse curriculum that infuses civic education and student empowerment, Northport students have opportunities to demonstrate leadership skills that connect what they learn in class to the world around them.

At Northport, young people have many opportunities to be active leaders for social justice in the community. Students for 60,000 is a student organization that provides humanitarian assistance to those in need. Projects have included feeding and clothing the poor or homeless locally and internationally and teaching English to recent immigrants in their town.

Also members of A Mid-winter Night's Dream, another student club, have testified before Congress on issues related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. These students have been able to conduct research alongside scientists and have raised over $1.5 million in seven years to support patients with ALS and further research.

Strong Policy and Community Collaboration Speak Volumes

Grand Forks, N.Dak.

A four-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition, Grand Forks, N.Dak., strives to evoke positive action through strong policies and community collaboration.

Practices like the Grand Forks Youth Commission, composed of students from middle and high schools who express their voice about community issues; the PASS and Interventions programs, which use innovative approaches to assist in responding to student challenges; and the Grand Forks Helping Hands Summer Camp, which helps young people understand the importance of volunteerism as they provide opportunities for a wide range of children, are all positive change agents that will continue to promote leadership and service among all generations.

Leadership Models Endorse Positive Youth Engagement

Manchester, N.H.

Two-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People designation, Manchester, N.H., stresses youth leadership through all of its practices and is known nationally for its work in the design, development, and implementation of leadership models.

Whether it is the City of Manchester, through the Departments of Planning, Health, Youth Services, or the Manchester School District, positive and engaging programs are budding around the community:

  • The Weed-n-Seed Initiative has led to the development of programs to reduce the number of youth in juvenile justice and improve youth health.
  • The City Year Young Heroes is a service-learning program that serves as a platform for middle-grades students to understand important social issues while giving them the chance to positively influence their communities.

Young people in Manchester are working alongside adults to fully support the academic, social, and physical needs of everyone in their community.

Midwestern Culture Cultivates Rich Opportunities for Youth

Omaha, Neb.

Incorporating student voice, engagement, and overall well-being into the community are top priorities in Omaha, Neb. Nestled in an environment with strong Midwestern values, the city has a deep understanding and focus on creating a collaborative pathway to achievement so that its youth can succeed.

Interactive leadership programs, like Youth Leadership Omaha and the City of Omaha's Mayor's Youth Commission, have allowed students to examine their community in full and participate in addressing community needs to promote long-term wellness. A dedication to the growth of youth is also evident in volunteering, receiving mentoring services, and gaining preparation for post-secondary education that are easily accessible through local nonprofit organizations, like Building Bright Futures and the Midlands Mentoring Partnership.

Omaha, Neb., is a first-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition.

Family-Oriented Community Excels in Helping Youth Learn, Serve, and Grow

Butler County, Mo.

Family-oriented Butler County, Mo., has been putting forth an inspiring amount of effort into providing a multitude of opportunities for youth. "Learning, serving, and growing" characterizes the focus of this two-time winner of the whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition.

Between community theater productions, spelling bees, and civic athletics, youth are involved in educational opportunities across a spectrum of subjects. A driving force in Butler County is the Community Resource Council, where more than 300 individuals and 100 local agencies participate in community action committees that promote healthy children and families.

Youth are even involved in developing local policies—almost every youth-serving program asks for youth participants to assess the community's role in meeting their needs and the programmatic effects through an annual survey.

From Health to Career Exploration, Youth Involvement Is Priority

Mankato-North Mankato, Minn.

Four-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition, Mankato-North Mankato, Minn., understands that investing in the development of long-lasting partnerships that cater to youth well-being is crucial.

A variety of programs, like the Mankato Area Healthy Youth (MAHY), Envision 2020, and Greater Mankato Growth, strive to keep youth involvement a top priority. MAHY encourages kids to stay healthy, while Envision 2020 motivates youth and their families to participate in the planning process of a 10-year community priorities plan. Greater Mankato Growth furthers youth engagement by aligning classroom learning with career exploration, allowing students access to internships and job shadowing.

Putting Youth Dialogue Front and Center

Barnstable County, Mass.

Barnstable County, Mass., a four-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition, has set the stage for youth dialogue in its community.

A variety of innovative partnerships have helped promote this dialogue, thanks to the Barnstable County Council for Children, Youth, and Families. These include

  • The Cape and Islands Youth Congress, a diverse group of high school students who encourage their peers to step up to challenges and be positive agents of change.
  • The Cape Youth Force, which enables youth participants to become involved in the grant-making process.
  • The Cape and Islands Gay-Straight Youth Alliance, a youth-led group that networks with fellow youth organizations across Cape Cod.

Barnstable County is definitely doing its part in promoting the value of youth engagement.

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