Superintendent Dr. Renee Foose Gives Wilde Lake Seniors Opportunity to Speak Their Minds
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Superintendent Dr. Renee Foose reached out to Principal LeMon to set up a meeting with Wilde Lake seniors on December 13, 2016. This meeting, which was organized with students voicing their concerns while Dr. Foose listened, was a continuation of Dr. Foose’s outreach to understand the climates of each of the high schools in Howard County.
Entering the mini theater, Dr. Foose was greeted by around 30 seniors sitting in lines of chairs. “How many days ‘til you graduate?” she asked with a smile. There were a smattering of answers, and some laughter as one student called out “too many!”
While the environment remained a little tense at first, students soon became comfortable and, as ideas were called out, students received applause or criticism from their peers. Dr. Foose moved around the front of the room, listening and responding to what each student had to say.
Dr. Foose plans to visit all of the high schools in the county in order to get an accurate representation of each individual school.
“My goals [for the discussion] were to hear from the students directly, of their experiences, of the opportunities they had or that they didn’t have, or what they would like to have. The big thing is how do we make the school system better? I need the voice of the students to tell me about their experiences [and] what is happening on the ground, so that we can scale that up,” said Dr. Foose. “Every school is different, and has unique challenges and unique experiences so it’s insightful to me to see what those differences are.”
For Dr. Foose, this was an effort to make a connection with students in order to maintain the quality education HCPSS offers.
“I wanted to discuss what [the students] wanted to discuss,” said Dr. Foose. “I want to continue to have the best school system in the state, that is needed to prepare students for their future.”
Students, like Alex Tummings, felt like the conversation covered some important topics, such as the quality arts program in Wilde Lake. “I enjoyed the parts of it that were constructive, but there were some things that weren’t really too constructive or relevant. I enjoyed the questions that really brought up important issues,” said Tummings.
Nick David stated that he wants to see some sort of result from this experience. “I think we need to see some sort of change or action, before we see that something was actually accomplished,” said David. “I feel like my voice was heard, but I think that being heard and being listened to are two different things, so I feel as though [Dr. Foose] was hearing what we were saying but actually listening to it and taking it as something important is completely different. For her to care and actually do something about it, that would mean a lot to us.”
John White, who has been the Director of Communications in HCPSS since December of 2015, wants the county to continue these kinds of conversations that give students a voice.
“[We are] making sure teachers have the resources they need to have these conversations about the things that are on the students’ minds, whatever worries them, whatever questions they have, so that there can be open conversations, particularly in subjects like government and social studies,” said Mr. White.
“It’s going to take all of us to make the school system the best it can be,” said Dr. Foose.