Members of the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council discussed their student voice project during a virtual meeting on Dec. 5.
The council typically takes on a project each school year, and this year, members decided to amplify student voice. Raima Dutt, a senior at duPont Manual High School (Jefferson County) and chair of the council, said council leadership has been drafting a list of questions to ask education stakeholder groups about student voice.
“We realize as a council how important it is in the education system when students are able to represent your student body and voice their opinions,” said Jocelyn Reddick, a senior at South Warren High School (Warren County).
“The result is a community where students feel heard and appreciated, resulting in many benefits such as a safe community for students, unity and willingness to cooperate with one another to work towards a common goal.”
The council plans to seek advice from five advisory councils run by KDE: the Superintendents Advisory Council, the Principals Advisory Council, the Teachers Advisory Council, the Local School Board Members Advisory Council and the School Counselor Advisory Council. Dutt said members from each council will be invited to attend the next Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council meeting on Jan. 23.
Anopa Musoni, a senior at Lafayette High School (Fayette County), said he likes the approach of seeking feedback from these councils directly, face-to-face.
Dutt said the project would wrap up with a report on how to better amplify student voice during the council’s meeting in April.
Career and Technical Education
Members of the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council heard an update on different career and technical education (CTE) pathways offered in Kentucky schools.
“Career and technical education is really a way of combining academic education with employability and technical skills, and it gives you the knowledge and the training to succeed in multiple career areas,” said Beth Engle, director of KDE’s Division of Technical Schools and Continuous Improvement.
“That’s one of the things that I love so much about CTE, is that it prepares students for high-demand, high-wage and high-skilled labor.”
Kentucky offers 12 programs with 146 total CTE pathways in high-demand and high-wage program areas, ranging from agriculture to marketing to health and science. The programs are aligned with postsecondary education institutions to ensure students are prepared to work as soon as possible in the fields they are exploring.
“There are wonderful opportunities that exist with current technical education in Kentucky,” said Engle, “and for your specific opportunities, you would have to get with your school counselor to find out what’s available in your area.”
Engle also provided an update on new pathways that will be available to students in the upcoming school year, which include supply chain management, generative AI and data science/informatics.
Annalee Jackson, a public policy fellow in KDE’s Division of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, led the council in a “Mindful Minute” activity dedicated to the holidays.
“The holidays are this wonderful mixture of connection, but sometimes can feel a little chaotic or hectic,” she said.
Jackson asked students what three words came to mind when it came to the holidays, with family and joy being common among the responses. Following a deep breathing exercise, Jackson continued the conversation by asking students what advice they would give to a classmate who wants to support people in need during the holidays.
Seth Langford, a sophomore at J. Graham Brown School (Jefferson County), said providing emotional support for their fellow students is important.
“I know from personal experience that sometimes the biggest problem is that you don’t feel safe in or comfortable during what’s supposed to be a break,” said Langford. “And sometimes you just need to listen to someone who’s going through that.”
Owen Borden, a senior at Highlands High School (Fort Thomas Independent), said joining organizations can be another way to help the community.
“So if your school has, like an Honor Society or like a Beta Club or things like that where the focus is on volunteering or just being a supportive space for other people, I would suggest getting involved in those groups to see people who have mindsets like yours to try and put your ideas into action,” he said.