The Steering Team of the Student-Adult Advisory Board (SAAB) at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, MA – a team of eight  youth and eight  adults – met for the first time on August 24th to continue building a culture of youth-adult partnership. The team met at the Berkshire Innovation Center, a tech hub for the area founded by one of the youth team member’s parents. This steering committee arose out of a conversation with UP youth facilitators at the school, who were particularly interested in finding a way for SAAB (in its 3rd year) to be more impactful, connected, and engaged. The steering committee is the result of that vision and this first retreat solidified a path forward for the SAAB.  They drafted a shared mission and vision statement, and established structures and practices which will guide their work for the ’23-’24 school year.  

The thoughtful and caring dialogue among team members and focus on next steps resulted in a set of goals, roles, and responsibilities that includes plans for communications with the whole school community, details of meeting schedules for all committees, and outcomes for the full SAAB Retreat – which will include some 60-75 participants – to take place at the end of September. This full SAAB will have ongoing committee meetings. They will also have quarterly full group retreats, which will be followed by professional development time with staff, where youth can actively engage more teachers in the work, and build awareness about the progress each committee is making.

The work of this steering committee is to ensure that the SAAB has what it needs to:

-Reach out and engage the whole school community to build a truly representative team

-Establish youth-adult partnership as the culture of the whole school community

-Ensure the work is rooted in the community’s needs and aspirations

-Foster voice and agency for every youth and every adult

-Practice Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) and leverage data to make change

By engaging in the work as authentic partners – sharing their hopes and concerns, experience and learning in such an open and honest exchange – Monument Mountain is making progress toward their ultimate goal of establishing a culture of youth-adult partnership that animates all of their work. 

by Harry Frank and Katie Ingraham, UP Program Directors