Two students from each middle school were invited to ask questions and offer suggestions to School Board members and Superintendent Jeff Eakins during the middle school forum on October 25, in the Raymond O. Shelton School Administrative Center (ROSSAC) auditorium.
“It’s a fabulous opportunity to see civics in action,” explained Kathy Wasserman, Lead Teacher at Franklin Boys Prep Academy, who brought students Sam Simmons and Carson Moore to the forum.
Students come up with the questions themselves, sometimes with help from a teacher, administrator or a parent. Each school has the opportunity to ask one question during the first round and one question during the second round, each followed by answers from the board members or superintendent. Then a speed round at the end allows one final question by a number of students.
During the forum, students asked questions that ranged from bringing in more leadership development programs, to adding more vocational middle schools and offering students more options for electives.
“We saw there were patterns to the questions,” said April Griffin, Hillsborough County Public Schools Board Chair. “The middle school students are thinking about the same things we, as a board, are thinking about and trying to solve those issues. We’ve actually implemented changes in our policy and procedures from questions we’ve received over the years from the middle school forum. And I can see that happening again after this forum,” stated Griffin.
Students showed they are also concerned about their future asking if more foreign languages can be added to the list of offered classes as well as courses on budgeting and how to buy a home. They even suggested a mentor program between 8th graders and 6th graders so the older students can share tips for success with their younger schoolmates.
Superintendent Eakins met with many students after the forum, thanking them for their thoughtful questions. “Our middle school students are passionate about their education and are thinking about their futures. They brought us their concerns and ideas on how we can make their education more meaningful to them,” said Superintendent Jeff Eakins.
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