SD 308 Presents at Chicago School Conference, Featuring Student Voice
For immediate release
Contact: Theresa Komitas
Phone: (630) 608-5031
Oswego, Ill. (November 22, 2022) — Oswego Community Unit School District 308 Board of Education members, students, and administrators joined a representative of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) for a presentation at a large conference for school officials held last weekend in Chicago.
The panel discussion was titled “Amplifying Student Voice with a Seat at the Board Table” which was offered as a breakout session at the 2022 Joint Annual Conference. The session was full, standing-room only, attended by board of education members and school leaders from districts around the state.
Featuring the development of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) and the board’s Student Ambassadors, the presentation provided a timeline review and function of the student roles. Several students were part of the panel, including current student ambassadors to the board Aanya Roy (OE) and Kaitlyn Jobes (OH), along with Monica Lopez (OE), SAC committee member, and Arriyana Franklin (OH), alumni SAC member. Students shared with attendees the importance of collecting the opinions of students and sharing them at the board level. The presentation focused on the importance of talking with students, not just about them. Board-level decisions are often made without the consideration of input from the students who are directly impacted. Having this type of conduit between district leaders, the Board of Education, and the students they serve is critical for decisions to be appropriate and relevant to students.
The SAC is led by Superintendent Dr. John Sparlin and DEI Director Dr. Jadon Waller. Along with Dr. Waller, Board of Education President LaTonya Simelton and Vice-President Eugene Gatewood, and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Heather Kincaid were panel participants. Board members Jared Ploger, Jennifer Johnson, and Dominick Cirone were present for the presentation. IASB Field Services Director Lori Grant, who served as moderator, indicated she received many messages of gratitude and praise for the presenters following the session; she shared, “Your efforts may very well change the trajectory for school districts in that room who have been struggling with ways to be more inclusive.”
The Student Ambassadors and SAC programs were started in 2021 in order to provide a formal platform for student voices to be heard. The students have conducted surveys and provided input to the board, along with participating in board meeting discussions about topics relevant to them and their student body.