Local school district listens to students when deciding future plans

A local school district listened to their students to help shape their future plans.

The Charleston County School District is hosting a series of listening sessions at their headquarters in downtown Charleston. They have already held meetings for teachers, principals and business leaders. Still scheduled is a listening session for parents and then one for civic/community leaders.

On Thursday June 29th, CCSD listened to their students. The group ranged from middle school through those who recently graduated from high school. The moderator would throw out a question and then open the floor for the group of students to answer individually.

A big takeaway from the session on Thursday was how mature the responses were from the students and how well they articulated the problems that they see in their schools.

After the meeting, we talked to one of the students involved. Lily O is going to be a freshman next year at Academic Magnet. She said, “I think this really showed that we do have something to say and that it’s not just childish complaining. That we do have real opinions and real things that are issues in our classroom. Real things that need to be solved now before it gets worse.”

She chose to come and talk about school during the middle of the summer because she says there are people who need more representation.

“There are issues that don’t always get spoken about for fear of being reprimanded for it and I felt that if I came today, this was a place where I wouldn’t be punished for saying how I felt about some of these issues and that’s extremely important so school districts know the students feel and not only the parents because the parents can only do so much.”

Joseph Williams is the Executive Director of Middle Schools and he was the moderator of the event on Thursday. He says he was very impressed with the group.

“I’m just really impressed with how articulate every single one of them was and courageous to speak the things that were on their hearts and just some very important information that they gave to us to help better what we do for them because at the end of the day, we’re here for them.”

The first question Williams asked was—What makes a good educator. Lily explained what she thinks makes a great teacher.

“I appreciate teachers who want us to learn. Who want us to get farther in life, but they also care about us. Outside of the classroom, they’ll come up and talk to us and say—‘how’s your day or I noticed that you’re not feeling as well today.’ These are the teachers who make us feel comfortable in school.”

And Williams noticed that many students brought up the topic of “care” when describing what makes a great teacher. “One thing that they said unanimously was that we respond better when we know people care,” said Williams, “and so that was just the thing that stuck out.”

The information was recorded and will help lay the road map for the district moving forward.

Williams says, “We’ve got to get individuals in from our community, our parents, our principals, our parents and our scholars to get their input to help us drive the work that we’re doing here at the district.”

The district says their goal is to do these listening sessions each quarter.

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