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Wilde Lake HS Senior Engages Students, Elevates Student Voice as Student Member of the State Board of Education

March 12th, 2024

Abisola Ayoola.

It’s been a busy several months for former Howard County Student Member of the Board Abisola Ayoola.

In addition to keeping up with her school work, applying to colleges, and participating in student government and several school clubs, the Wilde Lake High School senior spends 8-12 hours a week engaged in activities related to her role as the Student Member of the Maryland State Board of Education (State SMOB).

In that role, Ayoola is tasked with working with her fellow State Board members to develop education policy and standards for prekindergarten through high school. As the student member, she also has the unique responsibility of engaging and representing the student voice.

“It’s my job to make sure that the student perspective is understood and considered as we, the State Board of Education, are developing policies and making decisions,” Ayoola explains.

At the same time, Ayoola is charged both with informing Maryland students about the work the Board is doing and engaging them in that work. To that end, she publishes a monthly newsletter on the website for the state student councils, posts information on the State SMOB Instagram account and visits regional student councils.

“My goal is to bring students into the conversation. I want to make sure that they understand how different education laws and policies impact them and that they know how and where to advocate for themselves,” she says.

To date, much of Ayoola’s work on the State Board has been focused on Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, legislation passed in 2021 that aims to improve the quality of public education in Maryland.

“I’ve been trying to help students understand what that legislation means for them,” she says. “Blueprint is a long-term plan with a lot of great things in store for students. But it’s really important to me to make sure that students understand not just how the legislation impacts their future; I want them to know what it means for them now, so that they can take advantage of available opportunities.”

In addition to this and other work she does on the State Board, Ayoola sits on the Board’s Education Policy Committee and on its State Superintendent Search Committee. In both settings, she aims to serve as a conduit of information between students and the Board and also ensure that students’ values and priorities are represented.

Ayoola credits her experience as the 2022-2023 Student Member of the HCPSS Board of Education for preparing her for work at the state level.

“Being the HCPSS SMOB enabled me to hit the ground running,” she says. “It prepared me to see things from the student perspective and from the local Board perspective. Now that I’m at the state level, I’m better able to articulate those perspectives and use them to inform my decision-making.”

Ayoola says that she is proud of the work she has done so far as the State SMOB and is eager to continue it.

“There are great things coming for Maryland students. I strongly encourage them to remain involved and continue advocating to their representatives at the local and state level; [the representatives] are eager to hear student voices!”