CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - As the Charleston County School District continues its changes in leadership, officials are asking for new input from its students.
A group of about two dozen students sat down with Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait and the executive director of secondary learning Kim Wilson Thursday afternoon to discuss district issues.
"There are people out there that actually believe what we say," incoming Charleston County School of the Arts senior Caleb Smith said.
Smith was a part of the student panel.
"I want to have a relationship with people who teach me and are preparing me for life. Being in an opportunity and environment like this, talking about education, they thought that we would have a lot of things to voice, a lot of things that we learned and want to share with, not only with students but with educators and administrators and all those involved with the district."
Joseph Williams, the executive director of CCSD middle schools, moderated the discussion.
"They have blown us away. The courageousness, the answers, being tactful. Not only saying this is what's wrong, but offering solutions," Williams said about the students. "It was very powerful. I spoke to one of the scholars afterward and she said it's time for people to realize that, while we are kids (I like to think of them as young adults), we have a voice and our voice matters. That is the most important thing that I heard today."
One of the hot topics discussed at the meeting was building a relationship between students and staff.
"We go to school every day, we see the same teachers and administrators every day and some of them don't even know our name," Smith said.
"They really just want us to listen and for them to know that we care and understand," Williams added.
Smith said he formed his opinions based off of his role model, his father. Kevin Smith is the principal at C.E. Williams Middle School.
"Seeing him say everyone's name, shake everyone's hands, it just seemed like a close-knit community that I wanted to involve myself in. I thought it would improve the person that I am today and it definitely has," Smith explained.
Smith said his hopes for staff and administration apply directly to the teachers and principals the district is replacing this year.
"We need caring and compassionate educators," Williams said. "If we have them then scholars will perform."
"I do have extreme hope that we will fill the position with the right people," Smith said. "If we have people in the school district like my father and the other mentors that I look up to in CCSD, I don't think we can be touched."
Other key issues discussed were reforming disciplinary tactics, reallocation of resources, social media, and bullying.
Charleston County School District officials say they will be holding these open-forum type meetings quarterly and include businesses and staff, as well.