Students Share Solutions to City's Challenges at Terra Urban Education Conference

     Published on 10/27/15   Tagged under:   

Three SCSD high school students took part in a student panel at the Terra Urban Education Conference, suggesting their ideas for how to improve struggles facing city school students, including drop out rates, preparation for college, English language acquisition and more.
ITC sophomore Josolyn Malone, Fowler senior Hamdi Farah and Corcoran junior Zacqueline Baldwin spoke on a Summer Leadership Program Student Panel on topics that they explored during their experience in the Terra Summer Leadership Program.
Josolyn spoke about the importance of school staff being honest with students about the reality of what it will take for them to succeed after high school. “Teens need more support,” she said. “We need someone to tell us honestly what the steps are that we need to take to graduate. We need to know that we have to get a career and hold ourselves to high standards. We need someone who won’t sugar coat it.”
Hamdi, herself an English Language Learner, spoke about problems facing her ENL peers. “For ENL students, they should have book clubs and writing clubs to help us learn faster,” she suggested. “Having tutors would also help push us forward. We need to learn the language first, and we need more outside programs to help. Content teachers could leave us more time and could simplify content so it’s easier for us to understand.”
Zacqueline focused on ways teachers could modify instruction to help a variety of learners. “If teachers could teach in a variety of ways rather than just giving notes, it would help us learn better,” she reflected. “They could simplify concepts to help us understand and they could encourage students to express things in their own words.”
As part of the Terra Summer Leadership Program, students interned at community organizations for half the day and then took part in class discussions about challenges and stereotypes facing Syracuse city residents. After reflecting on these topics, the three students felt compelled to share their ideas for change.
“I came because I wanted to create awareness about ideas of how we can use resources,” Hamdi said. “We need to do something to help us [ENL students] learn. I was scared at first to speak, but it was great. There were lots of people here to listen to us!”
Josolyn said she appreciated the opportunity to speak to the audience of teachers, administrators and school staff. “We have lots of opinions that people need to hear,” she explained.
All three student panelists agreed that open discussions are key to enacting change in the community. Zacqueline concluded, “I was sick of hearing ‘that’s just how it is’ and the empty promises of ‘you will succeed.’ There are problems to be solved for now and for our future. I think this was a great start!”
Congratulations to all three students on their leadership and participation!