Students Speak Out On School Success Strategies

AASB Executive Director Norm Wooten listens as North Slope Borough School District students Aria Brown (left) and Carrah Hawley give their thoughts on how school board members can support student success.

On Sunday, two Youth Leadership Institute attendees from the North Slope Borough School District participated in a discussion facilitated by AASB Executive Director Norm Wooten. The students shared their thoughts on what helps kids succeed in school, what prevents kids from succeeding, and the one thing they think board members and adults need to hear from students.

What do you think helps kids succeed in school?

Carrah: Students tend to succeed more when they’re shown support by peers, teachers, school board members, elders, and the community. Coming together and supporting one another helps everyone get on with their plans. It’s important to be there for people and really listen to what they’re trying to say; listen to their problems, and try to help find solutions. That’s what we’re all doing here at the conference; listening to each other about what’s going on and trying to find solutions to better our schools and our communities, and bring everyone together. All in all, the main reason why students succeed is through help and support.

Aria: I think students who have an opportunity to show what they’re passionate about tend to succeed more. Projects that are interesting to students, projects that have no set guidelines. For example, if a student is really good at computer science, giving them a project where they can create something works best.

What prevents kids from succeeding in school?

Aria: I think there are two factors: a lack of support, and a lack of drive. Some kids have the drive to succeed, but they just don’t have the support and resources to get there. It can also be the opposite, where kids have all the resources they need, they just don’t have the drive to get where they want to be.

Carrah: Lack of motivation, and lack of support on grades. When kids get a bad grade we tend to get disheartened and not move forward. Instead of diminishing students, we should help bring them up and show them a new or better way of moving forward. Instead of students being brought down, we should help lift them up, and show them that they can do better and succeed.

What’s the one thing school board members and adults need to hear from students?

Carrah: The main thing is, what goes on in the classrooms. School board members don’t see first-hand what happens. You hear things from teachers or principals, but you also need to hear from students to help you understand what’s really happening. It’s not all that good. Classrooms can be a mess. There are students who disrespect, and students who don’t even show up. In a personal way, that hurts, because they’re not getting the full potential that they could be getting out of school. That’s one thing school board members should hear: we need help in the classrooms. We need to bring our students in, and for them to be there, and give their full potential. That’s one thing we should all be talking about: what’s going on in the classrooms.

Aria: Nothing works 100 percent. No matter what the solution is, it’s not going to fix everything that needs to be fixed. A lot of times people try to put out a solution, but it didn’t fix as much as they wanted it to. We can’t change everything, so let’s try to fix what we can. Our world is changing fast. Back in the day, it took hundreds of years for things to change, but now change is happening in seconds. News updates every two minutes. It’s a crazy fast world now. It’s very different from how it used to be, and that needs to be taken into consideration.

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