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 Ambassador Program Empowers Student Leaders

There are some students who seem destined to become leaders.

At the San Diego County Office of Education’s (SDCOE) 37ECB campus, educators are working to make sure that students use those their innate skills to make the school and the community a better place.

To do this, the school is training its first group of student ambassadors with the help of SDCOE’s Student Support Services team.

Sal Garcia, youth program project specialist, led a workshop Oct. 24 for the first seven students in the new ambassador program.

Eventually, interim Principal Matt Simon said he would like to have 15 student ambassadors at the school. The ambassadors will meet regularly, provide important input to educators, and help to build school culture and engagement.

“A lot of our students have felt disconnected from school in the past,” Simon said. “If they’re more connected with school, we’re going to see stronger outcomes.”

At the day-long workshop, students were given opportunities to build trust, develop bonds, and set goals.

“It’s a chance to help model what leadership looks like and to help them understand how important student voice is,” Garcia said.

Margarita, one of the student ambassadors, said she participated because she wants to help ensure her school is a safe place where students feel comfortable to express their needs.

“This is a welcoming space,” she said of the workshop. “I was able to connect with people who have similar backgrounds, and it helped me relate to them.”

Students applied for the opportunity to participate in the program and even had to interview with school leaders to explain why they thought they would make good ambassadors for their classmates.

Simon said the idea for the student ambassador program came from teachers at 37ECB as well as a similar program at another Momentum Learning school, Breaking Cycles in North County.

“There was a desire at 37ECB for more student voice and leadership,” he said. “Our teachers love hearing that student voice.”

The 37ECB campus is part of SDCOE’s Momentum Learning portfolio of schools. It offers an alternative for students who want a smaller learning environment or were referred by Probation, social services, or school district officials. The school provides practical, inquiry-based learning opportunities that teach core academic subjects through the posing of questions, problems, and scenarios.