Elevating Student Voice


On August 12, 17 Jacksonville Association of Governing Students (JAGS) student leaders came to the Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) office prepared to kick their senior years off with a bang! After a long day of activities, the students still managed to remain engaged in discussions exposing them to the role our organization is playing in the community to improve the quality of public education for all students.

When given a chance to share some ideas they had for the school year, JAG student leaders mentioned everything from starting debate programs to transforming the culture of school spirit. When asked how JPEF can assist them with reaching their goals, students expressed an interest in having some of our organization’s staff come speak at their schools. They wanted to share this experience with their peers. This led me to a few conclusions after just one week joining the organization: Our city’s children want to be a part of the conversations relating to their academic experiences. They are eager to make changes in their schools’ culture.

Here’s a brief recap from our meeting:

  1. Duval County public school students want their voices to be heard

  2. Student leaders have a vision for their schools that stretch beyond improving lunch options and improving school dances

  3. Students voices must be heard when prioritizing which areas to address within our schools

How can we ensure student voice is elevated?

We can start by giving students a seat at the table when discussing issues that will impact them and their schools. Our organization plans take the first step this school year by inviting these student leaders to join our Community Advisory Team (CAT). This committee’s role is to provide feedback on our current initiatives such as Issue Advocacy and they’ll identify which types of issues we should be focusing on moving forward.

There was overwhelming support among the students for this idea.

Our CAT members are asked to serve on the team for at least two years, so we specifically asked for high school juniors to consider the opportunity. Most of the student leaders present on Wednesday were already seniors, but if I’ve learned nothing else from working with the community, I’ve learned that leaders know other leaders. The JAG Student Leaders were asked to recommend their peers who might qualify to join the team, and they didn’t hesitate to start jotting down a few names.

Our students want to be a part of change. Let’s bring them along in the journey so that we can make it happen together.




of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.