School Name: Alpha Public Schools

Location: San Jose, CA

Description: At Alpha Public Schools, inspirED team members took initiative to change their faculty-student relations and improve the school’s emotional climate by presenting in staff meetings.

The Opportunity: Originally, the STEF (stop the tears, end the fear) group at the Alpha Public School maintained a focus on mentoring middle school students from their community. That focus was redirected after students at the school participated in the Yale School Climate Assessment as part of inspirED. The big issue that stood out from the survey was related to perspectives on student-staff relations at the school. Although many teachers and staff members had reported that student-staff relations were in good shape, many students reported discontented with the state of their relationships with teachers and other educators, and this disparity signaled a larger problem in the school that students working on the inspirED project wanted to address.

The Project: Team members worked together to brainstorm different approaches to raising the problem with staff members, in a way that was sensitive and non-confrontational. The group decided to develop ideas for small, tangible goals that staff members could try to reach when interaction with students, and they presented these ideas at a series of staff meetings. The suggestions included ideas like “try to ask students about their personal lives during a lunch break,” or “approach a student you don’t normally speak to in the hallway to ask how their day is going.”

The Impact: The staff at the Alpha Public Schools responded well to this project, and the school community benefited from the changes. Since the students had taken ownership over the process, and devised simple, easily-implementable changes that could be made to their school community, many of the students were happy with the way the school climate shifted as a result of this project. Staff members reported feeling more connected to their students in a positive way, and the campus had experience a definite shift in attitudes and feelings.

The Future: The students working on the inspirED projects at the Alpha Public Schools really enjoyed being able to take initiative to change their school environment for the better, and are looking forward to continuing to better their community in the future.

“Make sure you are committed – from school leadership to faculty – to responding to the results of the InspirED survey – with a plan in place (and somebody who will be accountable to making sure that plan happens.” –Greg Callaham, inspirED team faculty advisor