Guest post by Clint Williams
Skyridge Middle School’s Associated Student Body (ASB) program is an active organization that makes our school a great place to be. Our student leaders organize school celebrations and spirit weeks, plan assemblies and recognition luncheons, mentor our sixth-grade students, and much more. They are the face of our school and our best ambassadors. But there is one big problem with ASB: It is so popular that we have to turn away a large number of students each year who want to become leaders, because space is limited. I realize this is a great problem to have, but it is a challenge, nonetheless. What can we do to provide students more ways to get involved and lead?
Our administrative team at Skyridge has been hard at work to answer this question and find more opportunities for service leadership for our students. The first way we have tried to tackle this challenge is by offering new programs. We asked teachers for ideas, and one teacher offered to start a lunch group that would focus on planning and completing “random acts of kindness” throughout the school year. We agreed that this was a great way to get more kids involved and gave the green light for the lunch group. Already, students are planning awesome random acts of kindness and enjoying the opportunity to serve the school. As this program continues to grow this year, we hope to make this a formal club that meets daily and works hand-in-hand with our ASB program to help provide more opportunities for our kids.
Another way we have expanded leadership opportunities is within some of our established clubs. Our morning live news broadcast Skyridge Network News (SNN) lets kids write scripts, run equipment, and produce a broadcast every morning. Our SNN photographers attend many school events, giving them exposure that causes these students to be viewed as leaders. We have expanded SNN’s leadership role even more by asking for its help in planning many of our assemblies over the last two years. Our news students have felt a real sense of pride in that what they are completing has risen to another level. This has led to an increase in interest for this club as well.
We have also looked at some less formal ways to involve our students in leadership roles. One of those ideas was borrowed from one of our elementary principals. She has developed a student leadership program at her school, and one of the first things that she did was simply change the titles of many of the things that her students were doing. We have had students serving as office aides for many years, but recently we switched their titles to office leaders. When I first heard about it, I didn’t think it would do much for our students. I am happy to admit that I was wrong. A simple change in title has created a greater sense of responsibility within our students and more interest in the position from those students who might not have gotten into ASB.
This is just a start for us. We still have several students who want to be involved in leadership, so we are continuing to look for ways to give them that opportunity. Our goal is to develop leadership skills in all of our students, so we are committed to finding ways for that to happen.
I am looking for your feedback. I am truly interested in other ways, formal and informal, to get our students involved in leadership. How do you provide leadership opportunities for your students? I would love to hear what works for you in your school.
Clint Williams is the principal at Skyridge Middle School in Camas, WA. Formerly the associate principal at Skyridge, he was named the 2016 Washington Assistant Principal of the Year.