Standing in the projection booth, Sekai stood still and simply scanned around the audience, ease and grace filling her expression. In the meantime, Young hustled and Sun wasn’t there. I was standing mid-audience and Austin was talking to the crowd gathered. Despite the apparent chaos, in that instant it all made sense and everything was awesome.
Understanding Why Youth Media Matters
Last Friday evening was the wrap of the first-ever Seattle Youth Media Camp, a partnership between Seattle Public Schools’s Service Learning Seattle program, Social Moguls, and CommonAction’s The Freechild Project that was funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service Seattle Youth Engagement Zone grant. A meeting of minds and priorities, it was a rarefied space where a convergence of the agendas of service learning, media literacy, STEM, CTE, film making, amounted to social change led by and with young people. You can read my earlier account here.
At the end of two weeks of hustling, bustling learning and production, the students premiered a short film they created from the ground up, including conception, acting, directing, supporting, gaffing, laughing, critiquing, scoring, editing, and presenting. These students- who Seattle has grumbled at for more than 15 years- were powerhouses of hope, glaring their brightness into the hot summer evening above I-5.
Their film was witty and deft, making its point and moving on rapidly. Its presentation was relatively smooth, as I subbed in to take the audience taken through my usual paces of humor and progressive learning until I had them exactly where I wanted them. Nobody knew the depths of what was amiss behind the scenes until the very end, and that was okay. It turned out that despite my facilitators’ best intentions, we weren’t fully prepared to show the film in the auditorium where the 50+ audience members were comfortably seated! So we gracefully ushered them into the classroom where the camp edited the film and everything turned out excellently.
So much of our time- each of us, right now- is taken up worrying and waiting, wondering and hoping. In the meantime the fierce urgency of now is calling for our attention. The Seattle Youth Media Camp presentation reminded me that young people, those who are struggling with the future meeting the present right now, they don’t have the luxury of waiting. Now is their time. Honestly, that’s true for each of us right now, no matter what your age is.
In 2011, the City of Cheney Parks and Recreation Department wanted to take their community-wide coalition building activities to the next level. Weighing national interest in working in this small college city, they selected Adam Fletcher through a competitive bidding process to develop the Let’s Move, Cheney Five-Year Strategic Plan.
Faced with an epidemic of childhood obesity in their city, Cheney leaders gathered together to address the issue through a community-wide initiative focused on transforming systems, cultures, and attitudes towards health and wellness in the city. However, after a year of working together, diverse perspectives revealed the need for an outside facilitator who could establish middle ground and build consensus on moving forward.
Focusing on creating a comprehensive long-range plan, Adam’s contract included creating a performance measurement tool, a community engagement plan, an action plan, a fundraising plan, an annual evaluation plan, and a sustainability plan as part of the effort. He conducted almost 100 key informant interviews; facilitated group feedback sessions; and devised the final copy for the plan. Additionally, Adam also facilitated a community-wide meeting with more than 70 participants to deliver the plan.
In the 2011-12 school year, I designed and facilitated the King County Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre for Seattle Public Schools in partnership with Kyla Lackie of SOAR in Seattle. This included facilitating 28 hours of professional learning community activities for 25 diverse King County youth workers, developing curriculum, providing reports, and presenting findings at conferences.
In summer 2012, I provided technical assistance and contract supervision for the Seattle Youth Media Camp. This two-week course included 80+ hours of instruction for 20 students of color from a low-performing high school. They produced a video and received credit from their school for attending.
In 2012-13, I again partnered in designing and facilitating the Cadre. Additionally, I presented on the Cadre and the Zone in several settings, including the National Service Learning Conference in Denver, Colorado in March 2013.
All activities were funded through the Corporation for Community and National Service Youth Engagement Zone grant to Seattle Public Schools, operated by Service Learning Seattle. SOAR is the King County collaborative for children and youth.
In addition to facilitation, I edited the summary publication of the Cadre, The King County Youth Engagement Handbook, and sat on the Service Learning Seattle Advisory Board.
From 2010 through 2013, Adam contracted with Educational Service District 123 in Pasco, Washington to provide a series of trainings focused on integrating Meaningful Student Involvement into 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs.
More than 40 participants attended almost 48 hours of professional development throughout three years. Topics covered included student-adult partnerships, the Cycle of Engagement, my Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement, and more.
Adam also introduced a new component to each of the training events focused on personal engagement in schools, and how each individual participants’ perception of schools affects how they interact with learners. Each participant made plans for action, and were provided consultation throughout the year.
From 2012 to 2013, Adam provided 20+ hours of professional development for 20 sites from this program to facilitate the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum. Participants learned to facilitate learning and projects focused on Meaningful Student Involvement for participants, and used the curriculum at their discretion.
Educational Opportunity Center, Clarkston, Washington
New Horizons Alternative High School, Pasco, Washington
Prosser Falls Alternative High School, Prosser, Washington
River’s Edge Alternative High School, Richland Washington
John Sager Middle School & Meadowbrook Intermediate School, College Place, Washington
Dayton Elementary School & Dayton Middle School, Dayton, Washington
Finley Middle School, Finley, Washington
Kiona-Benton Middle School, Benton City, Washington
Robert L. Olds Junior High School, Connell, Washington
In 2011, Adam facilitated an Imagine Miami workshop on meaningful youth involvement. More than 150 nonprofit and community leaders participated in a seven-hour seminar focused on practically, purposefully engaging diverse youth in changing communities. The event was hosted by Catalyst Miami, formerly the Human Services Coalition of Miami/Dade County, with sponsorship from the Children’s Trust of Miami, SoundOut and The Freechild Project.
After that, Adam served as a consultant and trainer for the SoundOut Institute operated by Catalyst Miami from 2011-2014. He led the adaptation of the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum, a 250-page, 26-session, project-driven, hands-on student action curriculum, facilitated train-the-trainer activities for staff, and provided ongoing technical assistance for the program staff. In addition to training facilitators and adult allies, Adam worked with Catalyst Miami staff and school partners focused on successfully infusing student voice in Miami schools.
In 2009, Adam began consulting Helen Beattie in Vermont, where she has carefully created a powerful program called Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together (YATST). Over the last three years Helen has worked with a variety of organizations and high schools to develop a this effective model of school transformation that closely reflects my Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement. Seven high schools participated in YATST, with several more joining this year.
Later, Helen’s colleague Jean Berthiaume contacted Adam to share YATST and some of the challenging work Jean is engaged in as a Rowland Fellow. Working as a social studies teacher at Harwood Union High School, Jean has been deeply engaged in the work of effectively fostering and shepherding student voice towards full partnerships for many years. His wisdom is awesome, and his experiences learning from his peers and engaging students as partners make for wonderful storytelling.
After several long conversations with Jean, and his generous introduction of Helen, they came to visit Washington in October, 2009. For their tour, Adam partnered with my longtime colleague and youth voice and action ally Greg Williamson, who is the director of learning and teaching support at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. We excitedly showed Jean and Helen around Western Washington, introducing them to Carole Layton, a teacher/hero of mine who has worked long and hard at Black Hills High School in Tumwater to promote student engagement. Our group met with Mark Perry, principal at NOVA High School in Seattle to scan the awesome work- only to have him direct us straight to students we met in the hallway to talk about their experiences! It was awesome. We also met with Claire Buddeke, a student at The Evergreen State College formerly of the Washington Legislative Youth Advisory Council. She freely shared her experience with youth/adult partnerships, particularly in state government, and told Helen and Jean a lot about Evergreen, as well.
After that spectacular occasion, Helen and Jean invited me to Vermont to learn about their work and share my information about meaningful student involvement. Among the many, many awesome things they shared with me there, Adam had the opportunity to facilitate at the annual Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together gathering. IT WAS AWESOME. Seeing so many youth and adults willing to work together, digest and make sense of the challenging information Adam was sharing, and trucking through all that together and doing wonderful things afterwards was great.
Adam wholeheartedly and fully suggests to anyone wanting to learn how to do meaningful student involvement to learn more about YATST. Visit their website at http://yatst.com/, and if you get really into it and want more information contact Helen Beattie by calling 802-472-5127. Very cool!
This month saw the opening of an exciting new partnership between CommonAction Consulting and Seattle Public Schools focused on their brand-new Youth Engagement Zone project. Funded by the Corporation for Community and National Service, we will be provided technical expertise on youth engagement to a variety of partners in the project. After providing preliminary support to Lois Brewer, the project coordinator, Teddy Wright and myself (Adam Fletcher) will be facilitating our first activity in the partnership in December in the form of a training for local police focused on youth-adult partnerships. Stay tuned as we move forward – and check out this excellent article that came to us via our ally CB Smith-Dahl about a powerful new project in Oakland, California that is engaging youth as researchers focused on relations between youth and police.
Adam consulted the Student Engagement Initiative at the Alberta Ministry of Education in Edmonton from 2010-2012. Teaching the Ministry staff about his Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement, Adam consulted adult partners on next steps and possibilities for the initiative. Adam wrote an extensive student engagement research review for the Ministry, and detailed international best practices for them from the US, the UK, and Australia.
In 2011, Adam keynoted at the annual SpeakOut Conference for 700 students, teachers, administrators, and Dave Hancock, the Minister of Education.
As a consultant to the national nonprofit Action For Healthy Kids from 2008 to 2010, Adam Fletcher coordinated a statewide youth-led action program in Washington state focused on youth improving nutrition and physical activities in K-12 schools.
Providing training, technical assistance and program support for 12 high school teams based around the state, Adam’s leadership in this two-year project included a variety of actitivies. They included social media management with more than 1,000 messages in 22 months; two dozen student-created school advertising campaigns; administering $20,000 in grant funds, and other efforts focused on building the ability of local schools to engage students in healthy lifestyles. The national organization also contracted Adam to write a proposal for a national youth advisory board, and to provide speeches at state and national events. Students Taking Charge culminated with student-led events in several communities. For his leadership in this program, Adam was awarded the “Healthy School Champion” award from National Action for Healthy Kids by former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher.
“Adam has many skills that offer him a diversity in many areas of education, health/wellness education, school health systems, and youth development. He is also skilled with providing professional development to school and afterschool staff. His style is more interactive; and his style is as a facilitator that guides the learning process instead of telling you what you should know. The content of his trainings have been applicable with strategies that allow the learner to make adjustments for their own instructional or leadership style.” – Racie McKee, Action for Healthy Kids Project Director at Omak School District