Teen leaders discuss all things 'middle'
DOUGLAS COUNTY--The difficult transition years of seventh and eighth grade sometimes leave students feeling unheard. A new event coordinated by the PK-12 Department, however, is working to give middle schoolers a voice and a cause.
The Middle Level Leadership Summit was held on Friday October 4. Jessica Searle and Pierce Johnson from Sagewood Middle School, and Darcy Brander and Matt Long of Mesa Middle School were among those involved; collaborating in hopes to make middle school life a bit easier.
“We’re finding common issues at schools and trying to make them better. [We’re looking for] what we can personally do,” Searle explained.
This is the second time Dr. Marc Schaffer, director of middle schools, has organized the event. He asked for the administration from each of the nine DCSD middle schools to select two student representatives to serve on this special student panel. The students were tasked with providing feedback on a variety of topics and issues that tailor to the trials and tribulations of junior high.
“Right now we’re writing a script for a skit about how we can address the problem of disrespect from students to teachers,” Brander described. “But we also have talked about food in the cafeteria, relationships with teachers and bullying.”
Schaffer made sure to hear and react to the first-hand perspective of each student, giving them the freedom to critically think and determine a solution.
“They listen to what we have to say,” Johnson commented.
“Letting us take control of the lesson; which it’s nice to sort of let us be the teacher for a change,” Searle added.
Students worked in teams, small groups and as a whole group, problem solving and offering perspectives on several topics, often interacting with peers from other schools.
“It’s amazing to see how different each school is,” Brander said.
“But it’s even more interesting to see how similar they are,” Long chimed in.
“You hear about other schools but you don’t see them or see the kids. Everyone here is kind of going through the same stuff together,” elaborated Johnson.
On top of mingling with others their age, the day was packed with team building exercises and leadership training; preparing the soon-to-be teenagers for high school, college, and career success.
“I feel important,” Long said, “It makes you feel like you can actually change these issues because you’re first-hand experiencing them and it helps us solve them.”
The middle level leaders will meet three more times this year, and will ultimately plan, organize and deploy a community action-based project for their respective school.