LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Thousands of teachers from across the state were at Lawton High School on Tuesday for the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s EngageOK on the Road summer conference.
State Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister, as well as a panel of Lawton High students lead the session “What Students Wish Their Teachers Knew”... A very candid discussion on Oklahoma education, and how it can improve.
“I think when we go back to listening to children they will tell us, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see,” said Hofmeister.
Students talked about their experiences in each level of their education, how important the connection between students and their teachers is, and how preparedness for higher education and life beyond school is critical.
“It certainly was a lot to take in and I’m really honored to be given the experience and be able to talk in front of people who will actually listen and actually take what I said and what we all said into mind,” said Michael Tolbert, a senior at Lawton High School.
Another student brought up the importance of mental health resources in schools.
“We recognize that the world outside the classroom impacts the world inside the classroom,” said Hofmeister. “There was a comment about the importance of having mental health support while in school, and that could be very meaningful for students so that they can be successful.”
Hofmeister said one way to help is asking the legislature for more funding to hire more counselors.
“The students talk about the need for an academic counselor that helps them prepare for life after high school and then also a licensed professional counselor that can help when there is a crisis,” said Hofmeister.
Hofmeister said this conference helps navigate where Oklahoma schools are now, and how they can best improve.
“This is really kind of the launching point for responding to students and teachers and our community to meet our mission, and that is to have a high quality, well-rounded experience of education for kids so that when they are finishing a grade level or graduating out of high school, that they’re ready for anything,” said Hofmeister.
There are three more conferences this month at different locations across Oklahoma. You can find more information at engageok.gov.