Shawnee Mission students are sharing their ideas for keeping the Shawnee Mission School District strong. On Friday, Sept. 17, the district’s student advisory group gathered for its first meeting of the school year. Together they joined in team-building activities, participated in a ThoughtExchange, and shared their thoughts in a discussion with several district leaders.
“We are all here looking for ways we can make our schools better and we want to hear from you,” Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard told the students.
Dr. Hubbard was joined by Dr. Joe Gilhaus, deputy superintendent, Dr. Michael Schumacher, associate superintendent of human resources, and David A. Smith, chief communications officer, for a discussion about how the district can continue to improve the student experience. The student advisory group includes one student from each grade from the SMSD’s five high schools.
“It feels great to be here,” Miguel Tapia-Becerra, a sophomore at Shawnee Mission North shared. “I’m glad we can voice our opinions for others who can’t be here. I love that they are using student opinions. It helps us all feel included.”
To kick off this work, Dr. Hubbard and the students discussed the concept of sticking together as a team. They based their discussion off of “Stick Together” by Jon Gordon, a popular book read this year by SMSD team members. They talked about how belief, ownership, connection, love, inclusion, consistency, hope, and an unbreakable team all support a group’s ability to stick together. Then, working as a team, students played a round of Stick Together- themed Jenga.
The ThoughtExchange and discussion that followed touched on a variety of topics, including everything from school culture and rules, academic, activity and athletic opportunities, and facilities and furniture. The student advisors were encouraged to talk to their peers and friends back at their high schools and to add more thoughts to the ThoughtExchange. They will discuss the results at the next student advisory meeting.
In addition to the exchange of ideas, the event also gave the high school attendees a unique chance to meet peers from across the district, noted Ellen Bowser, a Shawnee Mission East freshman.
“It gave us a chance to hear what school is like outside our own school buildings,” Bowser added. “I made a lot of new connections.”
Advisory committees will continue to play an important role in supporting the Shawnee Mission School District’s strategic work to ensure all students achieve their personal best. Dr. Hubbard will be meeting later this week with elementary and secondary faculty advisory groups.
“I’m a firm believer that we are stronger when we all stick together,” Hubbard expressed. “The student feedback is so valuable to hear and we will be using it as we continue our work. I appreciate everyone who is taking the time to share their thoughts and collaborate in these advisory groups so that we can make our district strong for all students and staff.”