Student Voices added to agenda alongside Pride in Excellence


February 15, 2018

Tonia Copeland/Western Nebraska Observer

Kaden Adrian, forefront, stands with Kimball High School math teacher, Danielle Reader, as they address the Kimball School Board Monday night. Adrian and Reader presented the unique challenges accelerated students face and how Kimball Public Schools has addressed those challenges using online classes for advanced learners. Fellow high school student Natasha Selves, not pictured, presented Student Voices, a new addition to the Kimball Board of Education agenda.

Kimball High School student Natasha Selves addressed the Kimball School Board at their regular meeting, Monday, Feb. 12 regarding the perspective of Kimball High School students.

Selves address is the first from a new agenda item titled Student Voices which will be heard at each monthly board meeting.

"This is our first month doing this and I am really glad," board president Lynn Vogel said. "This is fantastic. We want to hear from the students."

Selves reported to the board that she asked her classmates what they saw as the school's strengths and what they would like to see improved.

"You guys wanted a voice from the students. I appreciate that you guys (the board) asking for students' voice because that is not something that adults do often," she said. "I will start with some of the problems so we can end on a good note."

Consistency was a concern for many students, particularly as it applies to the dress code and violations of such.

"From the student's perspective, there seems to be an inconsistency between the boys and girls who get dress coded," she said.

While girls tend to be called out for violating the dress code, Selves said, often male students are seen with inappropriate logos on their clothing, but they are not "dress coded".

Likewise, some young ladies are called out more often while their female peers, wearing similar styles, are not.

Educators were also asked what they would like to see changed, to which the answer was holding students accountable. One suggestion was that if a student does not complete an assignment, that student would be required to remain after school each day until the assignment is completed.

"Students are probably not going to like that, because it will take away from their time after school," Selves said.

Other ideas include adding a wider variety of classes, including electives or advanced classes through distance learning, facility updates like improved lighting, new furnishings and more or upgraded security cameras in the parking lots.

"I feel like we would take better care of our school if we have better things to take care of," she said.

For the positive notes, Selves noted that students are able to build healthy, positive relationships with educators and those teachers then become a kind of mentor to students.

Open campus for those students who maintain higher grades is also something that students appreciate.

The change to the grading policy is seen as a positive move, according to Selves, who said that it gives students motivation to improve their scores and will ultimately lead students to feel more confident transitioning into adulthood.

"We are moving in the right direction with our (use of) technology," Selves added.

Fellow High School student Kaden Adrian also spoke to the board for the Pride in Excellence item alongside high school math teacher Danielle Reader regarding the use of technology. Adrian and Reader presented the Florida Virtual Schools AP (advanced placement) Calculus class.

Six high school students qualified to take calculus this last year for the first time in many, according to Reader, who added that in her five years on board at Kimball Public Schools, the class was not previously offered.

"I knew the benefits of an AP program, so we investigated to see if I could find a calculus program," Reader said. "This group has been exceptional corp of students with some very high ambitions and we wanted to get them the programs they needed."

Adrian explained to the board how he progressed through math classes. He included that last year he took trigonometry in a similar way, setting his own pace while his classmates set theirs accordingly.

"We are all responsible enough to work at our own pace. This year we are using Canvas and Florida Virtual," Adrian said. "While the program isn't designed for all students, it does a very good job at what it is meant to do – prepare us for college."

He added that students using the virtual program and flipped classroom combination watch a video at home for each lesson, they then are able to research other teaching tools if additional help is needed.

They can use Reader's help in class following their at-home lesson and a five questions are provided with each lesson.

"For me it has been a very positive experience and it has prepared me for college more than anything else could have at this point," Adrian said. "It is self-motivating and that is all a high achieving student could ask for at this point."

"Overall I have been very happy with it," Reader added. "We have a multitude of students who are getting college credit done before they leave high school. I think that, as we provide more and more opportunities, we are going to see more and more trying to do this."

Reader further discussed Canvas, the learning management system the school provides.

Reader is one of the few Kimball classes that provides a flipped classroom, meaning that students learn the lesson at home and then do their "homework" in class with the teacher present to assist if needed.

"Canvas is now the learning management system that is being used across the state of Nebraska for all of the University schools," Reader said. "So the familiarity the students are going to have with the learning management system is going to make them much more comfortable when they begin their courses in college."

Reader added that she uses the program for everything she does in the classroom, and while some teachers are jumping in, she is the sole Kimball educator who uses the program completely.

"Their are others who use it for assessments," she said. "For me the nicest feature is that we have so many students that miss school. We are a small school and our students are involved in everything. They may miss two days for one-act and then they go to cheer. There are some weeks that I don't see my students for three or four days a week."

Reader added that she has seen "huge gains" since implementing the Canvas system and flipped classroom combination.


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