Students Actively Help Govern a Vermont High School

It’s one thing for students to carry out civic engagement projects in a classroom or an after-school club; but at Harwood Union High School in Moretown Vt., they share governance and participate in problem-solving for the entire school. I learned about this in a fascinating article in Education Week.

Through surveys, committee meetings, and submission of proposals to be voted on, students take part in developing policies and practices in the school. They’ve worked on staff hiring, schedule changes, student reviews of their teachers, and formats for student discussion of issues in the school. They participate not by happenstance but with leadership training from an organization called Up for Learning. Students now hold 5 of the 14 positions on the school leadership team.

It takes thoughtful and courageous leadership to make this happen. Listen to Co-Principals Amy Rex and Lisa Atwood and Harwood Union teachers and students speak about the effort and the need to make this transition happen, and the outcome in students’ commitment to school and to learning.

This is more than service learning. It’s more than civics. It’s an example of a school enabling students to be the active, responsible citizens that they can be. In this case, the community they are focused on is the school itself. In From Inquiry to Action I’ve stressed students’ efforts in their wider communities — but school is an essential part of communities everywhere.

Civic Action in Schools

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