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Westmoor Middle School Students Impact Culture and Climate in Their Building

westmoor students leading the way graphic

May 17, 2024 — Students at Westmoor Middle School are working alongside the school’s leadership team to enact positive change. Principal Wendy Gittens and her staff selected outstanding scholars from each grade to serve as student leaders and influence school-wide policies. 

“Based on the information from our Panorama survey and informal conversations with our students, they felt that their voices weren’t heard,” Gittens said. “They wanted to have a chance to make some decisions that impact their school experience.”

Gittens took this feedback and created the school’s student leadership panel, a group that works alongside her to monitor the culture and climate at Westmoor. Each week, students meet with Gittens to discuss what students prioritize in their school environment and how this can be implemented at Westmoor. 

She said giving the students a platform has greatly benefited their development throughout the year. 

“When these student leaders start to produce products, you see the maturity of the group,” Gittens said. “You see behaviors decrease and positive peer interactions increase. There are multiple benefits to giving them voice and choice.”

One of the group’s recent projects was creating tie-dye t-shirts for each member. The endeavor gave the students a look at what goes into creating products and required them to work as a team to complete the project successfully. 

This work helped to bring the group together and make the students feel like a team. Another project was creating a list of school-wide expectations for behavior, such as being respectful to teachers and peers. Students also suggested consequences for expectations that are broken. The hope is to reduce the number of student behavioral incidents by setting a standard of behavior created by students for students. 

“They’re working on decision making protocols. They always ask me, 'Can we do this?’ and my reply is always, ‘I don’t know; can you?’,” Gittens said. “I’m giving them autonomy and allowing them to use their strengths.”

This is the program’s first year, and Gittens is excited to continue the work in the years to come. It’s already having a positive impact on the school, and she can’t wait to see where the program goes in the future. 

Power of One

Priority 1 - Whole Child FocusedPriority 2 - Equitable Opportunities for AllPriority 3 - Strong Learning Communities in Every RegionPriority 4 - Authentic EngagementPortrait Attribute 1 - AdaptabilityPortrait Attribute 2 - CommunicationPortrait Attribute 3 - CreativityPortrait Attribute 4 - Critical ThinkingPortrait Attribute 5 - Global EmpathyPortrait Attribute 6 - Technology