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Madison Metropolitan School District

Student Engagement Specialists: Black Excellence at Black Hawk

Student Engagement Specialists: Black Excellence at Black Hawk

Student voice is more than a mantra; it’s been the key to tangible change at Black Hawk Middle School. In the midst of a challenging fall semester, Student Engagement Specialist Mikiea Price was assigned to support the school for all of second quarter. Her keen ability to build quick rapport with students and fierce advocacy for them began to shift the culture for both staff and students. Her home visits with staff and/or Associate Superintendent of Middle Schools, Dr. Angie Hicks, built bridges with families who have remarked that they have “never been contacted or visited by a school until this year.” 

In November, she convened a Black Student Union group that empowered students to take ownership of their building, setting high expectations for not just the student-leaders but also the group’s members. They gave feedback to administrators, began dreaming about their hopes for the school, discussed restorative values, and in January of this year, started planning for Black History Month. In response, Black Hawk hosted its first school dance, held restorative conversations between teachers and students, and realized a marked drop in students’ behavior incidents. The students also read to elementary schoolers for Read Your Heart Out. Ms. Price created opportunities for their identity to be expressed in authentic and creative ways. This group now counts more than 30 students as members.

The keys to change are not in research journals, they’re in the hearts and minds of the very students we serve. 

A colleague of four students smiling for the camera
A group of students sitting next to each other