BY BETWEEN THE LINES (MADELINE WILSON) —
The Shorewood Schools Vision Summit was a valuable way to discuss what the community wants for the future of our district. As we take those discussions and make them into plans for the years ahead, it is important to acknowledge that this dialogue is not over.
We must continue to debate the future of our schools because not everyone’s voice was heard at the summit, specifically students.
Summit attendance was astounding – every day over 100 people attended. However, of that high attendance, less than ten of the attendees were students.
Attending the entire summit was a 14-hour time commitment. This amount of time was necessary to discuss how our schools should function in 2025. There were so many topics to discuss; a packet was printed with a list of all the issues and trends in education that attendees mentioned, and it was 11 pages long.
Although the summit needed to be long to thoroughly talk about a variety of issues and goals, this time commitment made the summit less accessible to students.
A major topic addressed in this forum was the stress that students face from a packed schedule of schoolwork, sports, and extracurricular activities. On top of those busy schedules, it is very difficult to carve out 14 hours for a summit.
Topics discussed in the summit will affect students more than anyone else. Student representation in these conversations about the future of our schools is vital in order to improve the future of education in Shorewood.
As a district, we should find other ways to hear students’ perspectives on the topics discussed in the summit.
To delve into students’ perspectives on the ideal educational experience there should be discussions during school. Homeroom would be a great time to have these conversations. Possibly, there could be an assembly or optional lunch meetings.
The conversations held in the summit should continue to obtain more viewpoints, along with exploring the topics that were brought up in more depth. Often, activities in the event allowed people to indicate an issue in the district, but did not allow for further exploration of that issue.
For example, the importance of having learning experience that is applicable to the real world was a common theme at the forum. It was mentioned countless times, but the format of the summit did not allow the participants to go beyond that.
How can the administration take applicable learning and make it a reality at Shorewood if the conversation did not go beyond mentioning it up?
To implement more applicable learning, more dialogue needs to take place in order to understand it.
The summit did not answer questions such as: where are we using applicable learning already? Where is there a lack of applicable learning? In what ways can we make learning more applicable?
Similarly, other topics brought up should be understood more deeply so that we can specifically confront them.
Overall, the Shorewood Schools Vision Summit is a great step towards creating a better academic experience in Shorewood. However, the discussion in the summit does not encompass everything that our district needs because the perspective of students was not fully heard and the common themes named were not fully explored.
Ergo, it is necessary that the discussion surrounding how to improve our schools by 2025 continues.