Anne Arundel County Public Schools Office of Student Leadership

Anne Arundel County Public Schools, in Maryland, has been committed to fostering Meaningful Student Involvement throughout district decision-making for many years.

The Anne Arundel Office of Student Leadership has been the home to most of the projects encapsulating the district’s commitment. Throughout the years, these projects have included:

  • Superintendent’s Teen Advisory Committee. Composed of two student representatives from each of the district’s high schools, the committee met with the superintendent and other district officials three or four times annually. Student members have helped foster changes such as providing dinner for students in the evening high school program and revising course curricula to better facilitate the service learning projects—from tutoring to running a Toys for Tots campaign—required of all Maryland high school students.
  • Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC). The county student government association represents the district’s 32 middle and high schools. Monthly general assemblies, forums on issues from school discipline procedures to the district’s curriculum, and student-led leadership workshops at individual schools on topics such as group functioning, project planning, and running effective meetings are the keys to their activities.
  • Students on Committees. Students have participated on many of the advisory, curriculum and study committees in Anne Arundel schools. Students sound out on grading policies, alternative education, and other areas as a matter of procedure. State mandated School Improvement Teams involve large percentages of students – as many as 5 students on a 10 person Team.
  • Student Member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. Participating in budget and policymaking for the district’s 100-plus schools, Anne Arundel may be the only district in the country to accord this student representative full voting rights on the board of education. In an article by Wendy Lesko of Youth Activism Project, several successes of the student member of the board are detailed. They include the McGill Plan, named after the student board member who proposed modifying the bus schedule during high school mid-term and final exams. This move saves the district $100,000 annually. There is a shared and common understanding of the student’s role on the school board. Students and educators understand that the student member is not the student representative; instead, they are someone who will provide the viewpoint of a student in school matters. Students are very deliberate about the student who is chosen to represent them. The student member is not meant to represent a submissive or dominating perspective to adults. Instead, they are to offer something different from what are already established viewpoints by adult board members.

There is support from multiple levels of decision-making for the work of the Student Leadership and Involvement Office, and the work has been sustained in a meaningful way for years.

All of these actions, and many more, make Anne Arundel County Public Schools a beacon for student involvement in school decision-making around the nation.

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Published by Adam Fletcher

Adam is the founding director of SoundOut. An author, speaker and consultant, he has worked with K-12 schools, districts, nonprofits and others for more than 15 years. Learn more about him at http://soundout.org/Adam

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