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Abisola Ayoola is Using Her Role as Student Member of the Board to Increase Student Engagement and Improve Student Experience

December 9th, 2022

Abisola Ayoola.

Abisola Ayoola has been hard at work since she became the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) last year. Her term, after all, lasts only a year and she knows there is so much to accomplish. “My term as student member only lasts a year, and it is very important to me that I use that time purposefully.”

So far, she has made great strides in her efforts to inform and engage students to encourage them to have a voice in the decisions of the Board of Education. One example of this is her continuing advocacy for students to testify before the Board of Education. “It is important for students to testify at the Board because it is the most effective and efficient way to give input on the topics that matter most,” she explains. Most recently, she encouraged many students who were potentially impacted by the redistricting decisions to open new High School #13 to lend their voice to the process.

Ayoola has also worked to gather feedback on students’ experiences at school to better understand how they can be improved. For example, since becoming SMOB last spring, she created a sportsmanship survey, where, among other things, she asked students to rate how pleasant their experience was in the student section of sporting events. The input gathered in this survey was shared with, and considered by, her counterparts on the Board of Education.

Additionally, Ayoola is currently working to improve the way certain schools are perceived in the community. “Certain schools in Howard County, specifically those with higher black and brown populations, are often subjected to stereotypes, which create a stigma surrounding the school and its community,” she explains. In an effort to inhance understanding and awareness of the variances across our county, Ayoola would like to see students who attend different schools to swap places for a day to gain a more informed perspective.

Looking ahead to the remainder of her term, Ayoola plans to address social media usage. “I have seen firsthand how [social media] can negatively impact the lives of students, and I want to ensure that the poor choices of others do not interfere with our students’ ability to learn,” she says. She is considering creating a student-made agreement that outlines the boundaries of social media, and establishes accountability measures for when issues arise.

As she has throughout the beginning of her term, Ayoola will continue to work to engage students to improve student experiences and be sure all students have a voice in the issues that are most important to them.