Shadow a Student Challenge: The Superintendent's Perspective

By: Dr. David Sovine

Dr. Sovine talking about the Shadow a Student ChallengeThe Shadow a Student Challenge provided me with an opportunity to walk in the shoes of our students and experience the challenges of everyday student life. While I regularly gain perspective from our students during the Superintendent's Student Leadership Council quarterly meetings, following James Wood High School senior Amanda Christian through her day provided me with the opportunity to navigate our students' world first-hand in order to gain valuable insight and perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Amanda and her friends throughout the day. The day started at 7 a.m. with a senior class officer meeting where I experienced our students' commitment to building a stronger school community, as well as their focus on strengthening our greater community by giving of their time and talents to support numerous community service projects. Within the first few minutes of my senior class officer meeting experience, I was so impressed with the officers' passion for improving their already strong "Colonel Pride" school community.

I must admit that as I navigated a rigorous schedule of honors, Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses, I was both humbled and inspired by the rich, innovative, and collaborative learning experiences provided to students throughout the day. While the coursework was challenging, I was impressed with how teachers brought the subject matter to life by connecting the learning to real-world experiences. It was evident throughout the day that our teachers truly care about our students and work hard to foster strong, professional relationships designed to personalize student learning and increase student success.

While it was rewarding to see the outstanding support our students received from teachers and other school staff throughout the day, I was equally impressed by the dedication, time management skills, and grit displayed by students enrolled in challenging Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses. Amanda, and many of her peers, will graduate having already earned numerous college credits which will result in significant savings as they continue their education. In addition, students enrolled in those types of classes leave high school with a strong work ethic, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will help them be successful in life.

While I had a high level of respect for our students prior to my participation in the Shadow a Student Challenge, my experience with Amanda left me with an even greater appreciation of what students and staff accomplish each day. Our future is certainly in great hands with our next generation of leaders.