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Vermont Teachers Share Reflections from the Student Voices Experiences

This is a guest post written by Grace Borst, Innovation Specialist at St. Albans City School, Vermont. St. Albans City School was the 2018 Student Voices Award winner. 

November 4th was the first day of a unique and memorable experience for six students, two teachers, and one principal from St. Albans City School in Vermont. It was a whirlwind of a trip and after it was all over we all sat together to reflect on our takeaways, favorite parts, and what this trip meant to all of us. Molly, 6th grader, reflecting on the experience said, “No average 11 year old just goes to DC to present and accept an award on behalf of their school. I felt like the adults that were there were taking us seriously and really listened, they are professionals in this business and understood what we were talking about. It was a great experience, being a part of something bigger, flying on an airplane without our parents and speaking in front of professionals.”

While attending the SETDA conference, the students felt like rockstars. They were the only students and they could feel that but in a positive way. Nick, 4th grader, said, “I felt really special and rich with happiness!”. They were treated just like all of the other adults who were attending the conference, and that gave them an experience that isn’t afforded to many young students.  Marie, 5th grader, really enjoyed going to the reception the night we arrived. All of the students dressed up and chatted with all of the vendors, learning about new products and dragging the teachers around to see if we could get them at our school! Marie said, “We got to see new types of technology out there that we had never seen before”.

While on this trip, there were so many memorable experiences and firsts; airplane rides, trips on the metro, going to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and dinners out. But the things the students spoke most fondly and proudly about was representing their school at the SETDA conference. Gabriela,  2nd grader and the youngest to attend, spoke about what it was she took away from the trip, “Education isn’t always paperwork, it is knowing how you can help the world, why you should, what ways you can, and knowing how to do it. Representing our school gave us this opportunity to show that we can make a change and people can listen.”

Charlie, 5th grader,  got over his stage fright while on this trip, “This experience made me more confident. After talking in front of 200+ adults, it’s easier talking in front of my class now. That was something I was worried about before.” Charlie wasn’t the only one who left with more confidence, Molly said, “It gave me the confidence to know that if I went into a profession where I had to speak in front of a group, I would be more confident. It felt so good after we gave our big speech. It gave the adults the experience that kids can really know what they are talking about.”

Months later when I see the students in the hallway, they are still beaming and proud of their role.  As one of the teachers that helped them prepare in the months prior and watched them grow, and continue to grow after the trip was over, I am overflowing with pride and joy for these students. This experience showed our students that they can make a difference, their voice matters and that what their school is doing everyday is special, and it matters.

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Thank you to AT&T Aspire for underwriting the Student Voices 2018 and 2019. ATT Logo


The 2019 Student Voices application is now open through May 10. Contact your state’s SETDA member if you would like to be considered. For more details email Christine Fox.

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