School leaders at Sunridge Middle School are trying a new concept this school year to get feedback from their most important stakeholders – their students. The Principals’ Advisory Council is a group of students from all three grades at the school who meet with Principal Piper Kelm and Assistant Principal Jared Tesch.
School counselors selected the students who participate. They were intentional about choosing students who represent the wide variety of students who attend SMS in order to get many different points of view.
The Principals’ Advisory Council meets twice a month during lunchtime – one meeting per month is with each grade level, and one is with all three grade levels. Kelm and Tesch ask the students what’s going well at SMS and what could be improved. “What we really want from them is input on the culture and climate of our school, how they feel when they are here,” Principal Kelm said.
The meeting with all the participants – about 27 6th, 7th and 8th graders – is scheduled for about one and a half hours. They start with an icebreaker and then discuss topics. Kelm said in addition to getting school feedback, the Council also is starting to help build relationships between students in different grades, which she hopes makes them more willing to share their thoughts.
Kelm said as the group dives into their work during the second half of this school year, they will write some tasks and goals on large pieces of paper and start to cross them off as they accomplish them, hopefully eventually hanging them up in The Commons to share will all SMS students.
If the Principals’ Advisory Council continues next school year, some of the same students could participate. “We really want this group to serve as a diverse representation of students at SMS with an opportunity for student’s voice,” Kelm said.