What does student leadership look like at Safe Schools?
It’s about student voice and teamwork; personal growth and leadership opportunities; respect and accountability. It’s about treating students the same way as adults; about setting objectives but not telling you how to achieve them. It’s about managing your time, dealing with different opinions and understanding the legal constraints of running a program in a school.
What qualifies you as a high school student to run a Safe Schools’ program? After all, this work is serious and sensitive. First, you are selected for your maturity, work ethic, values and commitment. Second, you go through extensive leadership and program training. Finally, there is a long history in this country of teenagers being trusted with heavy responsibilities. Hospitals train students in first aid and CPR. The Red Cross trains 15-year-olds as lifeguards to save someone from drowning. The military sends 18-year-olds to war. It’s about training and attitude.
The Safe Schools training is done in multiple Zoom sessions over six weeks. It includes leadership training and a review of Safe Schools’ three programs (cyberbullying, R.E.A.C.T. and Safe2Share). You learn collaboration, team-building, presentation skills and your personal strengths. You complete the Clifton Strengths assessment which is used by many large companies in helping their employees succeed. The questionnaire identifies your top five personal strengths. These insights are invaluable in helping teams work to their fullest.
You learn skills that will be useful in college or at work. You work in a team. The team has goals and timelines and many layers of support: a faculty advisor, Safe Schools and experts (Dr. Meghan McCoy for cyberbullying and Dr. Carrie Curtis for R.E.A.C.T.). In addition, there are monthly Zoom meetings with your peers on other school teams to talk about what worked.