Student Voices: Learning from Those We Teach
Student Voices: Learning from Those We TeachAndrew Elwell, Associate Director, Communications
The Southern Regional Forum closed out its first day with the voices of some of the most important players in education: the students.
After a full day of plenaries and sessions focused on how educators can help students on their way to college and career, attendees heard from three outstanding students in the Southern Region about their own experiences: Johnathan Allen, a junior at the University of Central Florida; Kharis Hughes, a senior at Jones High School in Orlando; and Anthony Salerno, a senior at Sarasota Military Academy.
While each of these students has traveled different roads, they all agreed that one of the biggest motivators for them has been their families. Support from parents, school counselors, and other caring adults has kept them on track in their education.
“I honestly thought college was something that was out of reach to me,” Johnathan said, noting that having people motivate him has helped him reach his full potential.
Johnathan, Kharis, and Anthony all cited advanced course work as a critical part of their education that has helped them prepare for college.
“I feel academically ready for college,” said Anthony, adding that this is chiefly because of his advanced course work.
As a college student, Johnathan credited his AP classes with making him feel comfortable in a college classroom. “Being able to take those classes and see what a college class is really like let me challenge myself,” he said.
“If more people were exposed to the kind of work and the rigor of these classes — that would get us more ready academically,” Kharis added.
As high school seniors, Kharis and Anthony are excited about what’s ahead of them. However, they also know there are skills they’ll need to develop once they get to campus, like managing their autonomy as young adults on their own for the first time.
“When you’re in college, you have to be really responsible for yourself,” Kharis said.
Anthony added: “The biggest thing I’m worried about is cleaning my room.”
The students ended the plenary by offering words of advice to younger students, as well as to the educators in the audience.
“If you’re not doing something that’s making you worried, it’s not challenging you enough. And if it’s not challenging you enough, you aren’t using your full potential,” said Johnathan.
Kharis closed the session by imploring educators to push every student to do more: “I think if you give every student the opportunity — honestly, I feel like they would shock you.”