Navigator Blog

Students Help Shape District’s Vision

February 15, 2019

By Kate Ariga

What do your students care about when it comes to their learning experiences? When was the last time you asked them? 

One of our favorite parts about supporting school districts as they develop their Portrait of a Graduatea collective vision that articulates the community’s aspirations for all students—is the student voice at the table. 

We are inspired by how Otsego Local Schools in Ohio has been including students on the journey as they develop their Portrait with their community.  

School staff and community members of Otsego Local Schools listen to students talk about the learning experience in school today.

Here are three ways student voice is especially encouraged and informs the Portrait of a Graduate design process: 

  • Invite students to be members of your Portrait Design Team. Otsego has welcomed many voices from the community to create their Portrait, including ten middle school and high school students. 
  • Ask students what they think, and then listen. As Otsego school leaders and the community discuss what skills and habits of mind their children need for success in this rapidly changing and complex world…they’re also asking their students what they think. During a Portrait Design Team meeting, both adults and students read this article about three domains of competencies (strength of heart, will, and mind), and then shared their different perspectives on today’s learning experience in schools.
  • Let students get creative! (Their creativity will blow you away!) When Otsego was ready to begin visualizing what their Portrait of a Graduate could look like, they engaged high school art students to draw visual concepts based on the discussions the design team had about what the community’s hopes, aspirations, and dreams are for its young people. 

The Portrait of a Graduate process involves the entire school community—educators in partnership with students, parents, businesses, and others—to ensure sustainable impact in schools.  

High school students from Otsego Local Schools collaborated with their art teacher to sketch visual concepts of their Portrait of a Graduate.

Battelle for Kids helps school systems across the country engage their communities in shaping the future direction of their schools—through the design of a Portrait of a Graduate. For those seeking more support, we’d love to help you engage your community in developing a Portrait and making it a reality for every student. 

By Kate Ariga,
Battelle for Kids