Staples student serves on statewide council of education

Staples student serves on statewide council of education

Lily Kane '20, Web News Editor


While many students spend their high school years looking forward to the times not focused around school, some go against the tide and choose to become more involved with the topic of education. Emma McKinney ’19 is one of these students and was selected to be on the State Student Advisory Council on Education (SSACE) as a representative of Staples High School.

McKinney submitted an extensive application to the board last April, but just recently learned of her acceptance.

“The application process definitely wasn’t easy, but I had fun with it,” McKinney explained. “I got to write a letter to the Board describing my perspective on what I believe to be the most important issue Connecticut faces in education. I chose to write about education disparity in our public schools and the fact that students may receive variable opportunities depending on where they live and their family’s socioeconomic status.”

McKinney’s desire to apply for the position stems from her experience tutoring students in Bridgeport. “[I] was pretty shocked at how different the quality of education was, especially considering it’s only 20 minutes down I-95 […] From there, I started to realize how big of an issue education inequality is throughout not only our state but also our country; I knew I needed to do something,” McKinney said.

She began making a change by starting up her own club, Learning Through Lighthouse, which worked to encourage other students to tutor in Bridgeport. But despite the success of the club, McKinney knew she needed to do more. She chose to apply to the SSACE after learning about it from her AP Government class. The aim of the SSACE is to “give Connecticut students a voice in education planning and enable…[the government]… to become familiar with high school students’ perspectives on key issues,” the website states.

Though she has only attended one meeting thus far, McKinney seems to have a pretty good idea of the type of work she will be doing on the board.

“The main issue I’ll be tackling alongside the other members is ensuring that all Connecticut students have equal access to knowledgeable and qualified teachers,” she said. “It’s something we don’t have to think about too often at Staples, but many other schools do.”

Aspetuck News explained some tasks that the students fulfill and part of the role that McKinney will have on the Board. “Members write position papers on important topics in education, conduct the statewide Challenge to Educational Citizenship Awards Program, and learn from others about leadership and responsibility,” the article said.

McKinney explained how humbled she felt to be chosen to work in the company of so many intelligent people. “I’m already excited to be working with such an amazing group. It’s really diverse, and that’s what I love,” she said. “The students involved come from all over Connecticut, and some have even lived as far as Ghana and Egypt.”

Her position leaves her in a unique spot, where she has the true power to make a change in the education system of Connecticut. “[It’s] such a great opportunity to bring about the change that we all want to see happen,” McKinney explained. “By developing programs based on research the board will conduct throughout Connecticut schools, I’ll get to make direct, positive impacts on students and teachers throughout the state, which I think is pretty cool.”