When it comes to creating a new class at the high school or transforming the school system entirely, who is better qualified to talk about the needs of students than the students themselves? That’s why Hopkins High School students were at the forefront of discussions about changing the Hopkins education system on Dec. 9.
Hopkins High School students in the Project Based Learning (PBL) class hosted an in-school Student Voice Conference to gather more student input around seven topics: college and careers; health and wellness; physical spaces; daily schedule; leaders, teachers and staff; curriculum; and learning styles and engagement.
“It’s really important that students have a voice in saying this is what I need and this is what I need you to do for me so that they have a voice in their future,” said Bridgid Miller, a Hopkins High School junior in the PBL class.
Part of Hopkins Vision 2031 strategic plans is to create more student input and leadership opportunities. PBL is perfectly aligned with the vision as it was tasked to design a class for other students to take. The students in the class felt like they needed more voices to inform the creation of a project-based learning class so they opened it up to the rest of the school through the Student Voice Conference.
“The ultimate goal for me and for my students is to create an independent program within the school, where students have the opportunity to meet their graduation requirements through non-traditional means,” said Eric Turner, a PBL instructor.
Not every student learns in the same way, so PBL is designing a program for students to get the credits they need in a new way. The class might involve seminars or independent projects outside of the traditional classroom.
PBL instructor Kimberly Rodrigues Foster said student voice is very important when it comes to changing the current education system. Teachers, staff and administrators are used to a school system that they grew up in that isn’t necessarily designed to prepare students for the reality in which we live today.
“There is a spot in the middle where we can meet to change the system to better serve not only students so that they have success in the future but for teachers too so that we feel more successful in our profession,” Foster said.