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Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

Cascade Educational Consultants is an educational consulting firm committed to high-quality equitable teaching, learning and serving environments for all students to succeed in school and in life. Click here to learn more about our services...




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Youth Are Youth and Schools Are Schools

Recently my colleague Anderson Williams and I conducted a set of professional development workshops in Port of Spain, Trinidad sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Municipalities and Ministry of Sport focused on student engagement and leadership.

We worked with a great cadre of teachers and school leaders assisting them to enhance their student engagement and leadership knowledge and skills. Specifically, we focused on how to design, implement and sustain quality student councils. Student councils composed of students representing the diversity of their schools, focusing on decision-making and ensuring contributions to their school's quality, effectiveness and safety.

We hosted a Youth Summit with over 70 local youth focusing on their responses to several questions:
  • Why is equity important to you?
  • Why is equity important to Trinidad and Tobago?
  • Why is diversity important to you?
  • Why is diversity important to Trinidad and Tobago?
  • What words or phrases best define democracy?
  • What is your definition of democracy?
  • How do you currently acquire democratic values?
  • What suggestions do you have for school and community leaders to enhance your democratic values, knowledge and skills?
Our last three days we co-facilitated a workshop for representatives from the 14 local municipalities focusing on student engagement and leadership. The interactive sessions increased the participants' knowledge and skills to create quality opportunities for youth to contribute to municipal affairs - specifically on designing Municipal Youth Councils, ensuring the voices of youth are accurately reflected in community affairs.

Upon reflection, it is interesting to note that youth in Trinidad are interested in making a positive difference in their communities but lack consistent opportunities to do so; likewise they are willing to serve as leaders in their schools but their current contributions are marginalized and many times it is the popular students who serve on student councils rather than a more diverse representation.

Trinidad teachers expressed a willingness to engage students but lacked the strategies that are most effective and equitable; community leaders likewise expressed similar values and lack of experience.

Interestingly, it appears to me that the desire of youth to contribute to their schools and communities, the willingness of teachers to effectively engage students and the eagerness of municipal leaders to create equitable opportunities for youth contribute are consistent with circumstances in many nations including the U. S.

Unless we create effective and equitable opportunities for all youth to contribute in positive ways to their schools and communities we risk losing a generation that can bring energy, innovation and solutions to today's and future challenges our nations face. That is why I value service-learning, a focus on quality school climates, effective school-community collaborations and municipal youth councils as strategies all schools and communities should employ and sustain. These strategies certainly require adult knowledge and skills, but more than that they require their will to engage all youth in leadership and civic development.

Click here to view my presentation. The PowerPoint was created by Anderson Williams.

About the author: Terry Pickeral, president Cascade Educational Consultants has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.

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