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Feb 082012

The Carver Foundation of Norwalk kicked off the first of its newly planned 2012 Youth Forums on January 26th at Brien McMahon High School. This one was entitled: Mind the GapCivic Engagement Youth Forum on the Achievement Gap.

It was held in school’s auditorium and drew an audience of nearly 500, including students from Carver’s four middle school programs, as well as, educational activists from around the state and community.  Organized by Novelette Peterkin, the Executive Director at Carver, the panel was moderated by television anchor, Ali Reed of WTNH Channel 8.

The Youth Panel included students from Norwalk High, Brien McMahon and AITE and included:  NyAja Boyd, Tomar Joseph, Kortney Lelle, Isaiah Mohammed, Ellen O’Hara, Melissa Rojo, Edwin Rosales, and Tom Skipper.

The Adult Panel  included: Dr. Susan Marks, Superintendent, Laura McCargar, The Perrin Family Foundation, Dorcas Blue, Fairfield County Community Foundation,  Dr. Lynne Moore, Principal, West Rocks Middle School, Mike Barbis, Member of the Board of Education, Bruce Mellion, President, National Federation of Teachers, and Suzanne Brown Koroshetz, Principal, Brien McMahon High School.

Below are some of the major themes and ideas that the students reflected upon, in their own words, over the course of the 90 minute forum.

On Student Motivation:

  • Motivation is internal and you to have the fire in your belly
  • Need parental support at home
  • Economics play a part
  • Teamwork  is needed between  parent- teachers and student- teachers
  • Good teachers
  • Motivated students
  • Starts at home
  • Peer  group influence
  • Sports can be a motivator:  NHS raised GPA from 1.7 to 2.5 for participation
  • It’s your personal responsibility
  • Be the change you want to see
  • Find strength within your family
  • Achievement gap starts in elementary but too young to realize
  • Must respect the process of learning
  • Education is taken for granted
  • Education is a gift if coming from a third world country
  • Education gap starts at home and your principles and values
  • Work ethics – compete for your future
  • Personal drive
  • Find a mentor to change your situation

On What Can Schools Do

  • Get more kids involved in sports
  • Get higher level students to help tutor
  • Be involved- music, clubs, whatever
  • Teachers need to quit having low expectations
  • Show the consequences:  “Yale to Jail”
  • Push students harder
  • Raise the requirements
  • Mentor-Mentee  Older-Younger Students
  • Failure is NOT an option
  • Practical application of the real world
  • Need to bring real world into the classroom
  • Get involved in your community
  • Raise the bar of teachers
  • Fix some of our teachers
  • Fix the adults
  • Teachers need to call parents
  • Teamwork makes the dream work
  • Choose your friends wisely
  • Cool to go to School
  • Raise the attitude of the teachers you hire
  • Take into account what students think (teachers are biased)
  • Younger teachers are easier to relate to (Age versus attitude)
  • Don’t  let kids drop out at 16
  • NO articles in the Hour about kids
  • Take into account the voice of the students when hiring teachers and administrators

On What Should Students Be Learning? 

  • Principles and ethics
  • Life skills
  • Stop teaching to the test
  • Stop prepping for the test
  • Teach how to study
  • How to budget
  • How to write a resume
  • How to prepare for an interview
  • Discuss different culture, make more well rounded
  • Economics course
  • Survivor Skills
  • Apply what we learn for the real wor4lds
  • Civics
  • Apply what we learn to the real world- make relevant to kids
  • Global view
  • Teach kids how to observe concepts (not just about grades)
  • Have more technology
  • Have more surveys with kid input
  • Establish link between students and administration not just students to teachers
  • Only see Housemaster for when in trouble – make more positive


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