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Kid Kouncil: A model for student-led changemaking

Written by: Abby Bishop and Beth Corley, 3rd grade teachers at Summit Elementary

Laura Hay |

At 3:45 every Wednesday afternoon, a group of Summit Elementary student-leaders collect in Mrs. Bishop and Mrs. Corley’s room for a Kid Kouncil meeting. Their mission as members of this council is to develop the culture within their school and provide opportunities for their peers to practice empathy through local and global community projects. On this week’s agenda, students are working on how to inform and educate the rest of the school about Kid Kouncil’s next community- minded project, Apopo’s Hero Rat program. Kid Kouncil members considered the wide range in age and interests that naturally occurs between Kindergarteners through fifth graders and decided that life-saving rats was a topic that would engage all ages at Summit. “What are some ways that we can teach the school about these special rats and how they help the people of Tanzania?” asks Mrs. Hallock, a Kid Kouncil sponsor.

“Maybe we could make a commercial explaining why these rats are important, that way the little kids can see pictures of the rats and what they do to help,” one third grader suggests.

“Great idea! We could show it at our upcoming Leadership Assembly in a couple weeks. That way we can make sure that students and teachers have a better understanding of what we are all working for,” offers Miss Winford.

“What if we make a display board about Hero Rats with pictures and information for next week when parents come to watch our Lion King play? We could even have a donation jar to help raise money for the rat adoption, ” wonders a fifth grade officer.

“These are great suggestions of ways we can teach Summit about Hero Rats and get them excited about helping!” exclaims Mrs. Bishop.

The meeting continues with a few more suggestions and then sponsors assign member responsibilities and students go out and get to work. This is just one example of how students involved in Summit’s Kid Kouncil live its mission and promote empathy throughout our school community.

Kid Kouncil has been a 7-year process to craft and create. Summit’s goal is that students will finish their Kid Kouncil experience with an understanding and ability to lead others in a positive way and inspire change in their local and global communities. Here are some of the practices that have been successful in meeting Kid Kouncil’s mission in a practical and sustainable way.

– Second through Fifth grade students can join Kid Kouncil through an application process in the fall of each year. They are selected based on their leadership skills in and out of the classroom.

– Kid Kouncil officers are selected in the spring by the student body, through a school-wide election process. Holding this election in the spring allows these newly elected officers to be trained by the current officers. This is a value held by the school that students are teaching and learning from one another.

– Officers lead Summit’s quarterly Leadership Assemblies, represent our school to incoming visitors, share Kid Kouncil’s ideas with the principal, and more.

– Members are broken up into groups that rotate responsibilities on a weekly basis. This helps all members to have an opportunity to participate in all aspects of Kid Kouncil. These groups include a weekly video-cast filled with information about the school, a recycling group, and a group working on a community based project. Once each group has completed their task they join their friends working on the community project.

– Four teachers sponsor Summit’s Kid Kouncil. These teachers receive feedback from the principal and staff, look for community events or service projects to bring to Kid Kouncil, and facilitate student leadership.

Kid Kouncil is an avenue for students to contribute to their school and community and practice being Changemakers. It is always evolving and growing to adapt to our ever-changing world.

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