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Design Thinking and Service Learning in the Middle School Student Leadership Class



The student leadership class serves as the middle school student council with representatives from each grade level working together to meet the needs of their school. “We’re here to make change in our school,” says Wyman, a grade eight representative. Georgina Vilanova appreciates that the class creates service learning opportunities for her students. “I want to give voice to our students,” Ms. Vilanova says. “I want them to think about what they can do with a good idea.” Possibility inspires the group: how can they contribute to a positive school community? 

Start with empathy. The representatives understand their responsibility. Sua, a grade seven representative, is honored to be a voice for other students. “People know we care and can help,” she says. “It takes responsibility and courage to voice ideas and help fix things.” Responsibility, courage, and collaboration! The multigrade council works together on a variety of projects including pep rallies, cultural events, and holiday socials. “You have to be patient and compromise,” says Yeji, a grade six representative. “We mash up ideas together. The priority is helping other students.” 

As the group reflected on their work this semester, they acknowledged the importance of humility. That echoes what Ms. Vilanova believes too. “Leaders can be anonymous. Most are,” she says. She wants people to understand that you can lead with compassion and humility, and be largely unknown while effecting important change, including through everyday decisions.