Education Leaders Go Back to School for Shadow a Student

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Next week, 25 team members from the Rhode Island
Department of Education (RIDE), and 38 educators and district leaders from
around the state, will participate in the [2]Shadow a Student Challenge, a
global initiative to allow education leaders and policymakers to experience
school through the eyes of a student. In 15 different communities, in
traditional public schools, charter schools, and even an adult education
provider, RIDE staff will each follow one student for a full day, attending
classes, eating lunch with them, and participating in after-school
activities.

RIDE is the first State Education Agency to participate in the challenge at
this scale.

“Every single day, we discuss, create, and implement policies to support
and improve public education. But policymaking isn’t an academic exercise
– it has real impacts on our students, and we cannot lose sight of that,”
said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “The
Shadow a Student Challenge is a way for education leaders to experience the
implications of our work firsthand and to consider new ideas that ensure
the student is at the center of everything we do.”

Wagner will shadow a student attending the Newport P-TECH program out of
Rogers High School. Deputy Commissioner Mary Ann Snider will shadow a
student from West Broadway Middle School in Providence.

“Many of our team members started their careers in the classroom, myself
included, but as any teacher will tell you, the experiences of our students
and the challenges they face continue to change and evolve, and this
exercise will allow each of us to view our work with a fresh
perspective,” said Snider. “I’m really looking forward to going back to
school and learning more about what our students today go through in their
pursuit of an education.”

The Shadow a Student Challenge is part of an initiative called School
Retool, a collaboration between the Stanford d.school and IDEO, with
support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The challenge, which
is designed to build empathy and give policymakers a better understanding
of the student experience, is open to all school leaders worldwide. Last
year, 2,104 educators signed up in 50 states and 56 countries.

«Having lived in Rhode Island for almost 20 years, I know that small
packages can hold big rewards. Shadowing a student for a day can seem like
a small thing, but it can be a particularly impactful step on a journey to
changing the educational experiences we provide for students,” said Sam
Seidel, Director of K12 Strategy and Research for the Stanford d.school.
“It only takes one day and it can completely shift our perspective. I am
inspired that the Rhode Island Department of Education has stepped up to be
a national leader in committing to the Shadow a Student challenge at a
state level. I hope that all educators–including the many that I have had
the privilege of knowing and working with–in Rhode Island will participate
and share their stories.”

The press is invited to cover this initiative, but should coordinate with
Communications Officer Meg Geoghegan to schedule an appropriate time to
interview participants.