First in a three-part series about Dr. Morel’s three E’s

Dear Hawthorne Community,

On August 30th, I introduced myself to you as a Hawthorne Board of Education candidate. This article is the first part of a three-part series where I want to provide you with greater insight into my platform, which I call Dr. Morel’s three E’s. The first “E,” is elevate student voices. First, it’s important to define the term -student voice. Simply put, student voice means students give their input to what happens within the school and classroom. For me, student voice means students share their perspectives about “school life,” as well as become collaborative partners with the adults to work through solutions to problems. Elevating student voices means engaging students in their learning and providing them with opportunities for their voices to be heard and ideas applied in a variety of ways.Student voice is about recognizing student strengths, embracing the uniqueness of each student, and celebrating the diversity of our students. Elevating student voices means developing student leaders and helping them realize that they can make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. My vision is that as a board, along with Hawthorne educators, we engage our students in discussions to empower and amplify their voices.

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So, why focus on elevating student voices?

There are a variety of reasons, but I think it is imperative that a board member’s actions and recommendations should be driven by what is known as strategies proven effective to increase student achievement. Research indicates that students who believe they have a voice in school are SEVEN TIMES more likely to be academically motivated than students who do not believe they have a voice (Quaglia Institute for School Voice and Aspirations, 2016). Increasing student voice has been shown to re-engage alienated students, develop and strengthen positive, respectful student-teacher relationships, improve school culture and climate, develop students’ personal, social, and leadership capabilities, and an increased sense of belonging (Toshalis & Nakkula, 2012). Lastly, I believe it is important to focus on elevating student voices because it reflects the accomplishment of the district goal, "to academically, socially, and emotionally prepare students for a successful future as active contributing members of their community."

So, what does elevate student voices look like?

There are a range of different ways to elevate student voice from simply listening to students, to collaborating with adults, to taking on leadership roles of informing policy at district and state levels to promote meaningful change in our educational system. Below are some initiatives I would like to suggest to my fellow board members, if elected, and to district administrators.

1. Student surveys on a variety of topics (e.g., ms/hs school climate, elementary school climate, student to teacher constructive feedback)

2. Establish a student advisory committee. The committee will serve as a safe space for students to share thoughts, ideas and opinions about the Hawthorne education system to identify where change is needed. The committee will meet quarterly with the superintendent to discuss various issues affecting the district.

3. Developing students’ critical thinking, leadership, and debate skills, along with strong civic virtues by establishing TED-Ed clubs and incorporating civics education. Focusing on opportunities to engage and amplify our learners’ voices, helping them be active learners, and developing strong character qualities will enable them to succeed, thrive and contribute positively throughout life.If you would like to learn more about me and support my candidacy, please follow me on