In 2009, I was honored to become well-acquainted with Helen Beattie in Vermont, where she has carefully created a powerful program called Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together (YATST). Over the last three years Helen has worked with a variety of organizations and high schools to develop a this effective model of school transformation that closely reflects my Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement. Seven high schools participated in YATST, with several more joining this year.
Last year, Helen’s colleague Jean Berthiaume contacted me to share YATST and some of the challenging work he is engaged in as a Rowland Fellow. Working as a social studies teacher at Harwood Union High School, Jean has been deeply engaged in the work of effectively fostering and shepherding student voice towards full partnerships for many years. His wisdom is awesome, and his experiences learning from his peers and engaging students as partners make for wonderful storytelling. After several long conversations with Jean, and his generous introduction of Helen, they came to visit Washington in October, 2009. For their tour, I partnered with my longtime colleague and youth voice and action ally Greg Williamson, who is the director of learning and teaching support at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. We excitedly showed Jean and Helen around Western Washington, introducing them to Carole Layton, a teacher/hero of mine who has worked long and hard at Black Hills High School in Tumwater to promote student engagement. Our group met with Mark Perry, principal at NOVA High School in Seattle to scan the awesome work- only to have him direct us straight to students we met in the hallway to talk about their experiences! It was awesome. We also met with Claire Buddeke, a student at The Evergreen State College formerly of the Washington Legislative Youth Advisory Council. She freely shared her experience with youth/adult partnerships, particularly in state government, and told Helen and Jean a lot about Evergreen, as well.
After that spectacular occasion, Helen and Jean invited me to Vermont to learn about their work and share my information about meaningful student involvement. Among the many, many awesome things they shared with me there, I had the opportunity to facilitate at the annual Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together gathering. IT WAS AWESOME. Seeing so many youth and adults willing to work together, digest and make sense of the challenging information I was sharing, and trucking through all that together and doing wonderful things afterwards was great.
I wholeheartedly and fully suggest to anyone wanting to learn how to do meaningful student involvement to learn more about YATST. Visit their website at http://yatst.com/, and if you get really into it and want more information contact Helen Beattie by calling 802-472-5127. Very cool!