On August 22nd and 23rd, 25 students and 12 staff members of the Monument Mountain Regional High School (Great Barrington, MA) community began their work for the year as the Core Planning Team for the Student-Adult Advisory Board. Beginning with foundational work to build connections among team members, establish agreements for their work together and revisit and refine their vision, the Core Planning Team developed 30 Day projects focused on outreach, engagement and communication to prepare for the Student-Adult Advisory Board (SAAB) Kick Off Retreat in late September.
This work is built on the foundation of successful youth-adult partnership over the past three years. In an effort to integrate youth voice and youth-adult partnership into school culture, Monument Mountain established a Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together (YATST) team in the 2019-20 school year. The focus of their work has been on communication within the school so that everyone in the community has better access to opportunities and resources and is aware of what’s happening throughout the school. The need for better communications was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, when new obstacles and challenges to communication arose every day. By carrying out the Youth Participatory Action Research process, the team worked together to research, identify, and adopt an app called ParentSquare, where users can find important information about what’s happening at school, as well as communicate with each other.
Building on the success of this communication initiative, Monument Mountain established a Student Advisory Board (SAB) that includes one member from each of the high school’s 52 teacher-student advisories. Members of the YATST Team worked together to plan and prepare for bimonthly work sessions, and out of those work sessions came subcommittees focused on four topics: social and mental health, program changes, school climate and culture, and communication and participation. Each group has used a 60 day design cycle to identify concerns, brainstorm and propose actions, implement and receive feedback, and then refine.
Entering the 2022-2023 school year, the Student Advisory Board (SAB) renamed itself the Student-Adult Advisory Board (SAAB) as they move toward institutionalizing a culture of voice and partnership for all members of the school community.