Middle school students ‘Speak Out’

As part of Youngstown State University’s expanding involvement with preschool-12 schools, YSU will hold a “Stand Up, Speak Out” Leadership Conference in Kilcawley Center on Nov. 7. The conference invites middle school students from across Mahoning County to participate in a series of games and workshops that teach effective communication, resource management and other indispensable leadership skills.

The conference was brought to YSU on the impetus of Charles Howell, the dean of the Beeghly College of Education. He spoke with Mickey Corso, chief academic officer of the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations and originator of the conference, about bringing the affair to YSU’s doorstep.

“Howell found out about the conference, somehow or another. It was another initiative by Dr. Howell, and we became involved in another event,” Susan Moorer, coordinator of P-16 outreach and assessment, said.

The “Stand Up, Speak Out” conference is the concoction of the Quaglia Institute for student aspirations, a Maine based nonprofit group that attempts to pinpoint the proper circumstances to foster learning in schools and to utilize that knowledge to create ubiquitous change.

“The model is created by the Quaglia Institute,” Howell said. “They are a great believer in students taking ownership of their own education and student voices being heard in the educational system. They are working with the Youngstown City Schools to try and introduce those principals into the schools.”

Quaglia partnered with the Ohio Department of Education and the Pearson Foundation, another nonprofit education organization that promotes literacy and proper learning and teaching skills, to bring the event to fruition.

Although the Quaglia institute is providing a number of field specialists to conduct the event, YSU is acting as more than just host. Moorer, for example, is handling the logistical aspects of the event, communicating with middle schools, and prepping Kilcawley.

“I am kind of the liaison between the Youngstown City Schools and YSU. I am just trying to make sure that everything that needs to happen before the conference actually happens,” Moorer said. “You need to make sure every detail is handled.”

The teacher education students of Regina Rees, professor of literacy and middle childhood education, are being trained on Nov. 6 to act as facilitators and conduct workshops at the conference.

“Our teacher education students are going to help with this training, they are going to be facilitators for this training,” Howell said. “The idea is that this introduces them to a college campus, and also helps them think more proactively about their own education and possibilities for higher education.”

Participating middle schools are being asked to choose nine students and two chaperones to attend the event. The event is being offered at no cost, besides transportation, to schools and their districts.