Bright Spots

A Seat at the Table

How Can We Help Students Feel Connected to School? Watch this on-demand webinar as Dr. Quaglia joins host Peter DeWitt. Learn some strategies to help with your struggles with student engagement and help students recover the joy of learning.


Kihei Elementary School, Maui
A couple of weeks ago I had to provide sub coverage in a classroom.
I looked on the board and saw "Morning Circle" on the schedule.
I asked the kids to explain to me what it was about.
They got very excited and all came together on the floor.
The whole class gathered in a seated circle in the front of the class.
The student to my right grabbed a stuffed animal and began to share what she was feeling.
While the student was talking, no one else spoke.
When she was done, she passed the "stuffie'' to the next student, who then shared whatever was on his mind.
The stuffie was passed around, some students chose to share and others chose to pass.
Many students shared deeply personal information and while they shared, the others just listened.
No comments or judgements were made.
It was a safe space to be heard and to just listen to one another.
It was one of the best experiences I have shared with students so far this year.
We must remember to make time to share and listen to one another.
It helps us all learn to be compassionate and helps us to build relationships with one another.
Mrs Nicole McCombs, Vice Principal


Woodside High School, California

Congratulations to Ms. Thelma Mooney and the entire Team Ascent at Woodside High School for creating an amazing 4-week experience for incoming Freshman to explore the campus, get to know key staff members, and learn important information that will set them up for a successful transition to high school. The purpose of Team Ascent is to give students a Sense of Belonging while introducing them to the other 8 Conditions of Student Success: Heroes, Sense of Accomplishment, Fun & Excitement, Curiosity & Creativity, Spirit of Adventure, Leadership & Responsibility, and Confidence to Take Action. Check out this video to see highlights from the 2022 Team Ascent experience.


Chatsworth Charter High School, Los Angeles


This school year (2021-22) Chatsworth Charter High School returned to in-person instruction. A small group of teachers met at the beginning of the year to focus on student voice with the direction of Quaglia Institute. This group continued to meet as the first semester continued. We brainstormed ideas on how to make student voice a part of student life and school culture. One idea we decided to plan and execute was a virtual Town Hall. This Town Hall would be open to all students and have the administration as the guests. Students would be able to ask the administration any question via a Google Form. Leadership students and the Aspirations Team held this event on December 1, 2021.

Overall, I believe it was a positive experience for those who participated. We received 76 responses from the Google Form questionnaire where the questions were culled a day before the event. A debrief session was held with 48 Leadership students after the event for further discussion and participants came away with some good insights:

  1. Students appreciated the chance to be heard.
  2. Students would like to do it in person next time to allow for dialogue and/or follow-up questions.
  3. Themes were identified related to student concerns and ideas for improving campus.

The reception to the event was encouraging and received some good buzz from the students on campus. I believe this is a start in the right direction to change the school culture and make our school more inclusive and welcoming to student voices. The Aspirations Team will continue to work in partnership with Leadership students to listen and learn from student perspectives and lead together as we seek continual improvement. We are planning to host another Town Hall second semester to further encourage and promote student voice on Chatsworth Charter’s campus.

Click here to learn more.

Written by Gretchen Wiesner, Teacher, Chatsworth Charter High School