During the November board meeting, the White County School Board welcomed two student board members, senior Max Simmons and junior Joy McGill
As student board members, Simmons and McGill will sit in on monthly board meetings. While they won’t vote on matters, their opinions and perspectives will provide valuable insight to board members. Moreover, the students will use the board meetings as a learning opportunity to observe the procedures and policies of a board.
Simmons plans to attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in the fall of 2024 to pursue a degree in economics. He is a four-year member of the varsity tennis team, a member of the Move2Stand antibullying program, a live commentator for Ben Lomand and Warrior Media, a student council class president, and a special education peer tutor.
“I’m excited to be involved in the process of making decisions that will affect my peers and myself,” Simmons said. “I believe this will be a great opportunity to bridge the gap between students and the individuals who work with students’ best interest in mind.”
McGill is a member of Beta, HOSA, Bible Club, Games and Theory, and Book Club. She is a three-year member of the WCHS Marching Band as a percussionist, playing bass drum and marching quints. Last summer, she acquired her CNA training at NHC Healthcare of Sparta and passed the state test, earning a CNA license. McGill is active in her community and church, going into the nursing home to read the Bible to the residents. She also plays bass guitar with the worship team, assists the church treasurer in keeping accountability, and attends and leads worship by singing and playing guitar at teen night every Monday at her church, N-Vizion.
“Our hope is that it will benefit the board to have better communications with the students in the district and hopefully encourage the students to take an active role in politics and the school board in the future because the current board will not be here forever and we need to train good leaders for the future,” White County School Board,” Board member Jayson McDonald sai
Students were chosen by White County High School administration as students who exemplify excellence within the school. The idea to implement student board members originated last year when WCHS history teacher Keith Brown traveled with a small group of students to the Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) Student Congress on Policies in Education (SCOPE) Conference.
“The SCOPE Conference offers students the chance to see the intellectual world" and meet other students from across the state,” Brown said. “They also are able to hone their analytical thinking and speaking skills in a creative way.”
The SCOPE Conference brings together 9th-12th grade students from across the state to discuss current topics in education. Participants explored education issues through mock school board meetings, group discussions, and debates with their peers. These events were designed to give students an understanding of how school boards operate. During this conference, one debate topic centered around allowing school boards to include non-voting students at school board meetings to offer suggestions or answer questions.
Brown returned to White County and presented an overview of the SCOPE Conference and invited the students to speak to the school board, in April. According to Brown, school board members warmly received the idea of adding non-voting student board members.
“Max Simmons and Joy McGill were selected due to their maturity, intelligence, confidence, and willingness to serve,” Brown said. “These non-voting student school board members are expected to provide the board members with a student view of current and potential board policies as well as connect the students to the community in a meaningful way."
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