We connected with Heaven Watson, an 11th-grade student at Jordan High School, to learn more about her experience with the Partnership’s Policy Advisory Board, which is designed to elevate the voices of key school and community stakeholders in Partnership decision-making on policy positions and to strengthen our understanding of issues affecting our students. The board includes diverse perspectives and experiences from school leaders, teachers, parents, students, and Partnership staff. Learn more about Heaven’s experience on the board, below.
Tell us about your role in the Policy Advisory Board.
As a student and member of the Policy Advisory Board, my role is to engage in discussion with my fellow board members around topics we have collectively identified. The board is comprised of parents, teachers, and students from the community. When we meet, we discuss topics as a whole group, we break out into smaller groups to provide our individual points of view, and then we come back to discuss additional topics that we feel may have the potential to improve our schools. It is great being a part of this board because students are not treated as children, but rather as valuable contributors.
How has this experience been for you? How did you get involved?
This experience has been a true eye-opener for me because I personally did not know about the Policy Advisory Board or that students like myself could join and offer our thoughts and perspectives on issues we see. I learned about this opportunity through a former College Track Watts mentor. I quickly accepted because I try to gravitate towards opportunities that can help me be a part of something that can make a difference in our schools and address the needs of all students in Partnership schools. The best thing about being on this board is that my perspective is taken into consideration, and I’m able to have an open discussion with people who can implement my and other students’ ideas into actual policies.
What is a topic you have discussed in the Policy Advisory Board that you feel strongly about?
A topic we discussed was curriculum, specifically math. We discussed how it is a challenging subject for most students, especially English learners. They learn at a different pace because certain things cannot be translated from English into Spanish quickly or non-Spanish speaking math teachers have a hard time explaining math equations. This was such an important topic because I began to notice that when I would go into certain math classes, the majority of English learners would be behind in their math units compared to other classes.
How do you continue this work within and outside of school?
I continue this work in school by joining student panels and voicing my opinions with other students and teachers at my school. Outside of school, I do my best to stay in touch with my community through a program where I work called, ‘Watts Community Studio: Young Ethnographers.’ In this program, I develop and conduct surveys about common problems or solutions that happen in our community along with other students from different South LA high schools.