Student leaders from Cleburne ISD’s seven elementary campus came together this week to learn parliamentary procedures, create action plans and share ideas as participants in Student Council training.
The workshop was organized by Gerard Elementary Student Council sponsor Gina Wade, at the suggestion and encouragement of Principal Tracy White. Wade’s career as an elementary teacher has included 12 years of involvement as a student council sponsor. As a former member of the Coleman Elementary faculty, she worked with students to achieve state recognition for their Stu Co unit in 2016.
“Many schools across Texas involve their members and officers in Student Council training through the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association,” Wade said. “We are modeling that training, giving our elementary student leaders information on the role of Student Council, and their particular office or responsibility as a representative.”
“We felt this would be a fantastic way for us to grow student leaders, through collaboration and unity across our campuses,” Wade said. “We started with our elementary councils this year, but would love to see that expand to our secondary campuses. So often, campus sponsors don’t have the time to train their student members, with all that is required and necessary in getting the new school year up and running.”
The fifty-plus students in attendance, primarily fourth and fifth graders, were provided with an overview of the purpose and function of Student Council and the correct way to run a meeting utilizing agendas, recording minutes, making motions and taking time for discussion. The day also included planning for activities or projects, the exchange of ideas and some brainstorming, with songs and raps blended in to engage and energize.
“This was also good for our sponsors,” Wade said. “Some of our teachers are working with Student Council for the first time. We are all hear to learn from each other—students and sponsors—while determining what is working great for our respective campus units.”
Adams Elementary science teacher and Student Council Sponsor Joni Melson accompanied her campus officers to the training.
“This is wonderful,” she said. “This gets them ready for middle school and high school leadership, whether it be in Student Council or another student organization.”
Adams Co-President Beaux Douthitt said involvement in Student Council has developed leadership skills—and more.
“One of my favorite things is to hold the flag at school assemblies,” said the fifth grader. “But it’s more than that. The kids in my class depend on me because I’m in Student Council. It’s taught me leadership. I think I’m better at helping others. I also think I’m more confident in giving my opinion.”
Tatum Byrd, who is the Gerard Student Council chaplain, said involvement helps her to help others.
“Student Council helps the community, does things for the community,” she said. “It’s serving; it’s caring for others at your school.”
Wade’s involvement with Student Council is a carryover from her high school days.
“Growing up and all through high school I was very involved in extracurricular activities,” she said. “It was a passion. I love clubs—it’s so good for kids to be involved. I’m excited to train our youngest students to be leaders, in preparing them for high school leadership.”
“Student Council builds leaders and thinkers,” Wade said. “These are life skills that will carry them into their adult years as members of civic organizations and committees. It’s important for these kids to know it’s okay to have an opinion, to learn Robert’s Rules of Order and how to correctly run a meeting. The recognition awarded to Coleman in 2016 reflected their campus organization was functioning at an ideal program level in the conducting of meetings, fundraising activities, service projects.”
Each CISD elementary council has its own particular structure, some electing grade level representatives rather than officers, some designating Student Council for the third-fifth grades.
Fourth grader Anthony Garcia, who holds the office of student relations on the Cooke Elementary Student Council, gave the training some positive feedback at the mid-morning break.
“There’s a lot of kids here with a lot of ideas we can use,” he said. “I like being in Student Council. It’s an opportunity to lead, even if I’m just in the fourth grade.”
Garcia’s student relations position includes making Wildcats new to his school feel welcome. It’s an initiative that other elementary councils are considering for adoption in this school year. Another concept receiving 100 percent consensus from the student leaders was planning visits to each other’s campuses.
“I think our students really enjoyed getting to collaborate with kids from other schools,” Irving co-sponsor Sheri Eiler said. “They’ve made new friends and gotten some new ideas. It’s been great.”
Santa Fe fifth grade student leaders America De la Paz, Leslie Chavez and Emily Jimenez were among the participants in Student Council training involving CISD’s seven elementary schools. The 50-plus students spent the day learning parliamentary procedures, creating action plans and sharing ideas.