Over my past five years at Elphinstone Secondary I’ve come to see good education as one of the most fundamental components of a healthy society. Education matters not just in relation to understanding the world around us, but also for learning about ourselves. I believe that true learning requires freedom and exploration because interest and enthusiasm cannot be forced. When we give students the flexibility to pursue what interests them we create freethinking individuals who believe their opinions matter and value lifelong learning.
Throughout high school, I’ve seen repeatedly that making students feel supported in accomplishing the change they want has transformative repercussions. Whether it is as members of leadership classes, organizers of climate rallies, captains of sports teams, creators of clubs, or members in executive positions, leadership opportunities serve not just to grow leaders but to impact our local and school communities. More than this, administrators and educators putting the effort in to listen to students is fundamental to engaged school communities.
The District Student Leadership Team (DSLT) is a group of students from the Sunshine Coast’s four high schools who meet with administrators to discuss student issues. We’ve grappled again and again with the challenge of helping students move from extrinsic (“I have to”) motivation to intrinsic (“I want to”) motivation…in short, how do we help students become invested in their education? Allowing students freedom and creativity in progressing their learning is one answer.
But more than this, the best successes I’ve seen stem from relationships. Having people that care about you at school is essential to thrive and feel welcome because they turn it from a place you have to go to into one you get too. This one characteristic goes so under-appreciated in our educators; those teachers, EAs, and other phenomenal staff (I’m looking at you Chef) who are able to transcend the basics of their role and connect on a deeper level with their students are the true role models for us young people.
The graduating classes of Chatelech, Pender, SCAS, and Elphinstone have worked for five years to earn their diploma and developed as individuals in the process. However, it is just as important to acknowledge the educational staff who have dedicated their careers to help decades of grad classes reach this point. When I look back over the past five years of secondary school what truly stands out are the people who went above and beyond to care for and connect with me and my classmates. I couldn’t be more grateful.