Time and time again, life takes over our schedule and we forget to take time to reflect on what we have accomplished. Let’s take a step back and reflect on the Twin Rivers Unified School District’s (TRUSD) 2013-2014 school year.
Over the last couple years, Twin Rivers has decided to put an emphasis on youth voice and choice from the students in their district. That’s when the YDN team partnered with Twin Rivers to facilitate The Student Leadership Program. The Student Leadership Program is a year long commitment from high schools and middle schools and the leaders from their sites to identify an issue at their school and create an action plan to change their school sites for the better. If you’re looking for the jargony goals, students will:
- Learn to identify realistic change in their sphere of influence and strategize for success
- Troubleshoot each other’s efforts through a positive and supportive learning community
- Learn to effectively advocate for the issues and needs of their fellow students.
The neat part of The Student Leadership Program is that young people decide what issue to focus on. There is no top-down authority from the teachers or administrators that tell exactly what these young people should be working on. Sometimes as adults, we like to think we know it all. In fact, sometimes the experts in the room are the young people.
Schools all over the Twin Rivers district pick an issue to tackle. The issues ranged from bullying to drugs on campus to teacher-student relationships. It took a whole year for students to identify the issue and present any solutions they are planning to implement.
As a final celebratory event, we took these leaders to a summer camp and called it Twin Rivers Unified School District Student Leadership Camp w/ Youth Development Network. Long name, I know. This camp was a 4-day/3-night trip to the Santa Cruz mountains at Happy Valley Conference Center. It was the beginning of their journey into the world of Strengths and a continuation of building their leadership abilities.
Day 1 of camp is what we like to call the “ME” component, where campers start to understand their strengths and how they relate to their lives. This day is designed to get the campers to start to reflect what their Strengths are and who they use them in their everyday lives. We move onto day 2 and day 3 of camp where campers start to think about “WE.” This day is where campers start to think about their strengths in relation to other’s strengths. Day 2 and day 3 are usually the high emotional days where we take the campers on a journey of self reflection and letting go of any negative words people have instilled into our minds. This day also has high ropes course where campers can start to visualize their strengths in action. Day 4 starts to look at the “COMMUNITY” part of camp and how campers can use their strengths to make a difference in their community.
As we move forward, it is important to recognize that the Twin Rivers Unified School District is dedicated to get the voice their students and creating better leaders for the future. We want to applaud this district for the continuation of next year’s Student Leadership Program.