Superintendent's Councils Provide Valuable Feedback
Published on 1/29/16
More than 50 students gather at the Syracuse Professional Development Center, eating breakfast pizza and preparing for a full day of discussion.
As part of the Superintendent’s Student Cabinet, these students will provide valuable insight into issues facing the students at their schools—and suggestions for how to improve the school culture and operations.
For Corcoran sophomore Jalen Smith, a second year Cabinet member, new security checks at his school are on the forefront of his mind this year. “The security checks are making many of us like 15 minutes late to class, and they’re still missing things that should not be brought into school,” he explained. “I’m hoping we can talk about how we can improve the process.”
Four times a year, the group of students meets for a full day of sessions, where they meet as a large group and in smaller discussion groups to talk about this and other issues.
“We have spent a good amount of time talking about violence and how to keep the peace in our schools,” Fowler junior Brooklyn Spinks said of her two years on the Cabinet. “The discussions have helped me learn from other students about how to resolve issues so we can get along.”
Students are encouraged to join the Cabinet to represent the wide spectrum of students at each SCSD high school. Some aim to help develop their leadership skills, while others hope the experience will contribute to their resume.
“I was looking for something that will help my resume stand out,” Brooklyn noted, “and I think the Cabinet will help do that.”
Jalen said he has similar intentions. “I want to go to college to be a mechanical engineer,” he said, “I know this experience will help prepare me for what college will be like, interacting with people and everything.”
Because teachers play as important a role as students, Superintendent Contreras has created a similar advisory panel to provide feedback from the staff side. Called the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council (STAC), close to 100 teachers representing each school in the SCSD gather monthly to hear about new initiatives taking place in the District, ask questions and provide valuable feedback about the challenges and successes in their schools.
“How many of you can think of at least one great thing happening in your school?” Superintendent Contreras asked a room full of teachers at the Professional Development Center.
Every hand in the room shot up.
“It’s really important that we speak out about these great things,” the Superintendent continued. “Teachers are our most valuable resource for sharing good news, because parents listen to teachers.”
At STAC meetings, teachers interact directly with Superintendent Contreras to provide feedback or concerns from their schools, personal stories of notable teaching experiences, comments about district policies and more. One STAC meeting began with a challenge: teachers were asked to write the story of their teaching careers in just six words.
“My education began when college ended,” one said.
“Interested in teaching those who care,” another suggested.
“Striving to always be the best,” a third teacher added, noting that she had worked with some of the best educators across the country throughout her career. “But I truly feel like I’m among the best here in the Syracuse City School District. The dedication of our teachers and staff is unbelievable!”
Thank you to all of the committed students and teachers taking part in the Superintendent’s Student Cabinet and the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council and contributing to the District’s efforts of #makinggreathappen!
To view photos from the Superintendent's Student Cabinet, click here to view our Flickr album >>>
To view photos from the Superintendent's Teacher Advisory Council, click here to view our Flickr album >>>
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