“Student as Worker” Applied Outside the Classroom

Strongly implemented in CES schools across the country, the ten Common Principles have an impact on thousands of students. With the Common Principle “Embracing the metaphor ‘student as worker’,” students are able to revolutionize student culture to reach new heights, bringing it outside the classroom and into the whole school community through student activism.

Having students as workers provides a sense of ownership in their productivity, allowing them to acknowledge their own efforts that lead to their accomplishments instead of doing work that is dictated by the teacher. In the classroom, there are only two parties that can recognize student accomplishments and development, the students themselves and the teacher. But why should the recognition of student accomplishments and development just stay within the classroom when it should already be a constant that teachers recognize their students’ progress? It is not only in the classroom where students show growth.

Outside the classroom, there are loads of opportunities where students can be recognized by more people in a variety of ways. When students actually step into the community and make a difference, they can be rewarded far beyond just a pat on the back. Simply by being active in school, inside and outside the classroom, students can become well known by their peers as well as other people. Having others know that a student can truly make a difference gives the community confidence in that person—there couldn’t be any greater reward than that! Student activism gives students opportunities to give back to their schools and become well developed independent workers. Consequently, this can also allow the student to gain more recognition and credit from their school and their peers.

When students begin to discover their potential and become active at school, they can only leap forward and become more involved in student activism and even influence others as they bring their peers into the active student lifestyle. The only downfall for students is if they are never presented the chance to become involved at school. Students who do not recognize the importance of being active at school tend to depend on others who are more active to speak out, with most of the student voice representing theirs. This could also lead those same students to not be responsible citizens in the near future. These are not the type of students we are trying to cultivate in CES schools.

One might ask, “What does ‘student as worker’ look like when applied outside the classroom?” The answer to this becomes evident when students are motivated to become active in school as well as in the community. Through student activism, students are able to have their voices heard, have their ideas implemented, and be appreciated for their contribution to the school community. More than simply joining clubs and sports, student activism leads to community service and gaining a better sense of personal development. Also, student activists can contribute through attending the CES Fall Forum and Summer Institute, participating in school committees with teachers to shape the school the way students want it to be, and students taking responsibility for engaging all students in activities and in classes. These are some important ways that students can become more involved; allowing themselves to be able to contribute their own input as to how things can be as well as working toward a final goal, which is to create a more progressive and inclusive school community.

If students start to become more active at school and learn how they could benefit from that, this could become a whole new student culture as they get used to contributing to the school community and enjoy discovering their potential. In the end, students will be able to look back at what they accomplished along with what it took them to get there and look forward to how they can utilize their ability to be a well developed student as worker.

Global Connections High School
SeaTac, Washington’s Global Connections High School is a small school created from Tyee High School. Educating students in six local communities, Global Connections High School is a member of the CES Small Schools Project as a new school.

My name is Lou Vargas from Seattle, Washington. I’m seventeen years old and I currently attend Global Connections High School as a junior. I’m really active at school, helping out as much as I can, devoting my services to the school and the students. I really enjoy doing extracurricular activities such as the CES Committee, assisting in the future development of our school. I’m also extremely involved in DECA, which is an international organization of marketing students. Another thing that I’m involved in at school is our Track team. I love to work out and stay fit. Outside of school, I keep myself busy with my job at the nearby Abercrombie store at the mall which I enjoy very much since my closes friends work there as well. In my spare time, I do a little bit of photography. It’s definitely one of my passions. Other than that, I try to spend as much quality time with my friends as I try to balance school, extra-curricular activities, work, friends and family.