Tag Archives: Student-Led

Special! Andrew Brennen

This episode features Andrew Brennan, the National Field Director for Student Voice.



Andrew Brennen is a sophomore in the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he is majoring in Strategic Communication and Public Policy.

Andrew co-founded the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team in 2012 as a junior in high school. In this capacity, Andrew helped launch and lead a number of projects to amplify and elevate students as partners in improving Kentucky schools. These include a successful statewide, student-led campaign to restore over 15 million for low-income student scholarships; the drafting and promotion of HB 236 to add students to superintendent screening committees; an investigation into the tripwires that prevent high school students from making smooth transitions to college; and a “student voice audit” of a local junior high school to engage students in improving school climate.

In January 2016, Andrew took on a new role as the National Field Director for Student Voice, a national organization with the goal of bridging the gap between students and the education community. As part of his role in Student Voice, Andrew  lead a nation-wide tour with the goal of engaging thousands of students across the country through a platform called the “Student Bill of Rights”. Andrew considers himself a storyteller and believes in the power of amplifying and elevating the student experience.
Twitter is: @aebrennen and @stu_voice


This special episode with Andrew Brennan is also available here:

This episode is also available on iTunes.

Episode 4: Oliver Jacob

Episode 4 of the SoundOut Student Voice Podcast features Oliver Jacob, a student voice advocate at Arnprior District High School in Ontario.



Oliver is a Grade 12 student at Arnprior District High School. He has been heavily involved in student leadership and volunteer work within his community including sitting on the Ministers Student Advisory Council in 2013-2014. He has been involved with Free The Children raising awareness for poverty and child labour in developing countries while teaching Canadian students that THEY are the leaders of today not tomorrow. This is what drew him to contribute to his local and global communities but more than that, he wants to make a difference in the lives of current and future generations. Oliver is committed to do what he can to create an environment where students can achieve excellence in anything they put their minds to by creating a safe learning environment that promotes diversity and leadership.



In Episode 4, Oliver talks about his experience with Students as Researchers.  Students as Researchers is a project in which student teams (elementary or secondary) are trained to conduct collaborative inquiry research following the Tri-Council Policy Guidelines for Ethical Research Involving Humans. The first pilot project was held in 2012 in which a multicultural health and community-service centre, Access Alliance, adapted their action research resource for use with elementary and secondary school students.   In the project and in all training that followed, teams of 4 students and 1 teacher participated in training sessions held over two days (ideally), made a good start on developing their research question and methods and laid out a basic plan for next steps.

Upon returning to their schools, teams would refine their question and methodology, secure research ethics approval, collect and analyze data and share their research findings with their school and school board and the ministry.   In 2013, Students as Researchers teams shared their research findings with their peers, educators, and ministry staff at a conference hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Education. In this episode, Oliver describes his experience as a member of a Students as Researcher team and later, his experience as a Youth Facilitator at a Students as Researchers training session.



Listen to episode four featuring Oliver Jacob here:

This episode is also available on iTunes.


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Special thanks to the original team for this episode:

  • Host: Jean Courtney
  • Post-sound production: Andy Berthiaume, Andy.berthiaume@gmail.com 
  • Graphic and digital media support: Joie Li, joie.creates@gmail.com

Student-led Forums by Jean Courtney

Students say they want opportunities to be involved, to contribute and to have self-directed learning. They say that the truest form of engagement is self-directed and led.  They want creativity, integrated technology, effective student governments and effective student representation.  They want a voice to communicate with their teachers constructively, in the interests of improvement.

Andrew Pawluch, student, 2008

Andrew’s clarion call to administrators and superintendents of education attending a conference in Toronto in 2008 still resonates in 2015.

Why might this be?  Perhaps it is because teachers and students need resources to support their collaboration.

From my experience with more than 40 regional student forums of approximately 100 students (more on this in a later post),  what I found compelling was that students were hungry to be heard in their classrooms and schools.  How to do this……

Students if you want to host a small student-led forum in your classroom then a good place to start is to visit SpeakOut Alberta’s website on forums.  We adapted their straightforward approach and adapted it to create a kit which students and educators can order at no charge.

The materials lay out the process for students to lead a forum that enables  small group discussions involving 30 students (using post-its and icebreakers) on 4 key questions:

  1. What does it look like when you are learning at your best?
  2. What is holding you back from learning at your best?
  3. What actions can ADULTS take to improve how education looks and feels?
  4. What actions can STUDENTS take to improve how education looks and feels?

The key ideas are prioritized and shared with the classroom teacher,  at a staff meeting and in other forums. Students and adults can create create action plans to move forward on their recommendations and follow up to see what happened.

I have been told by student voice practitioners that this approach has been adapted for use in: a) primary grades using drawings to express ideas; b) guidance departments to ensure the needs of all students are met; and c) a whole school event (secondary school) to gather ideas from students to inform the school improvement plan.   If you have worked with adults/youth to host a forum, I would welcome your comments or a blog post on the experience.

This video gives an example of the magic that can happen, in this case, at a board-wide event focused on action research.