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Solutions For Student Engagement in Every School in the Long Run

The Federal Government has a new calculation for high school graduation rates. We want students to graduate but we want them to learn in school. In the short run, schools will try to raise their graduation rates. In the long run, perhaps we could endeavor to apply the solutions to engage all students so they run to school and are learning by:
  • Youth Leadership – young people reflecting the range of students in the school engaged in leadership.
  • School/community collaboration - sustainable collaborations with local business and community leaders – engages youth and adults in school and community improvement.
  • Sustained and authentic relationships – bringing youth with and without disabilities together through programs – forming lasting relationships and friendships. Engaged students who know adults respect and care about them.
  • Student developed and led advocacy – rallies for respect, advocacy for issues that are meaningful to youth – most recently in Greendale Schools, pushing for responsible use of mobile phones in school.
  • High expectations – a rock solid belief that students will achieve what they are able to in school - and rock solid support from adults who will not settle for less than best.
  • All stakeholders (e.g., parents, school staff, administrators, community partners, school boards, etc.) are responsible to to create the conditions for short and long-term success - this means a readiness, time, and ability to listen and hear real problems and have the courage to put the needs of youth and children ahead of the adult needs as the solutions to the problems.
  • Apply solutions from special education and strategies for Dropout Prevention to all students – to create a caring supportive environment where all children and youth can succeed.
Check out the below sources for some long run solutions to engage that work in the short and long run:
I think we can agree on what the short run is: We are about getting more students to graduation – with an action plan for worker training, the armed forces, community college or university. The question we have to ask is how can we use the principles of inclusion and building relationships between youth and adults in school for the long run to have them learn and change themselves as well as the community they go to school in.

Seth Godin said recently, most of the time, we err on the side of the short. I am in the work for the long run and want the students I am responsible for to run to their schools every day because they can’t wait to engage.

Image: William Hughes
About the author: Dr. William Hughes has worked in education for  31 years as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools. He has served as Superintendent of the Greendale School District in Greendale, Wisconsin for the past 14 years. Greendale is a garden community and one of three greenbelt communities in the United States. It is a suburban district of about 2,600 students located in the Milwaukee metro area; an area known for high achieving schools.  Greendale is known for its high level of student achievement with over 90 percent of graduates attending higher education institutions, ongoing community engagement on multiple levels, along with collaborative relationships with bargaining groups while retaining a focus on children, service, citizenship and learning. He is a former board member of the Milwaukee Area Technical College, a member of the National School Climate Council, board member of the National Center for Learning and Citizenship and adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

You can contact William Hughes at
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