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Wagner Middle School Holds Conference for Change
A group of 7th-grade students at Wagner Middle School participated in a first-of-its-kind event at the school called Conference for Change. The conference, facilitated by 7th-grade teachers Kelly Seaman and Sara Hill, invited community business owners, high school students and teachers, and other community figures to share their personal stories with Wagner students, in exploration of the theme of “change.”
While collaborating on lesson plans, Hill and Seaman endeavored to identify and meet a shared need among their students. What they discovered was an opportunity to foster inclusivity and empathy by broadening their student’s views on the diverse life circumstances, backgrounds and cultures of others, in turn empowering them to embrace their own unique stories.
Leading up to the conference, Seaman lead her students in a study of the book, “Restart” by Gordan Korman, copies of which were donated by Seaman's own family and friends. The study invited discussion on current events and social justice. In her science class, Hill challenged her students to question, “If we can change things, should we?” during their study of genetics.
The conference continued those discussions during 30-minute breakout sessions led by community volunteers. Students were given an opportunity to choose from 15 speakers. Seaman and Hill garnered support from community members who could serve as role models to the students, like business owners at Lark and Owl and 309 Coffee, a student-athlete from the University of Texas, Georgetown Police Department’s Officer Delta Jolly, and a travel blogger. Georgetown ISD students, teachers and principals were also among the guest speakers.
Each speaker shared the unique paths their lives had taken. Hill shared her own personal story of her parents’ immigration to the United States.
“We wanted the students to hear other peoples’ stories because the people you want to be are just like you,” said Hill.
During the conference, the students made buttons to wear at school, showing their commitment to impacting positive change.
After the conference, students came up with slogans that capture the spirit of the culture they want to be a part of at Wagner. Those slogans will soon be featured in a graffiti art piece on the school’s art patio.
“What happened to them was impactful,” Hill said.
Hill and Seaman plan on holding the conference again next year and hope to expand it to invite the entire 7th-grade. The event was made possible with the support of Wagner Middle School staff and PTA, and Chick-Fil-A provided a breakfast for the volunteers.