Lessons Learned

"This junior year has allowed me to reflect and to do an internal assessment of how I can bring all that I’ve learned into my senior year and to college and how I can keep the structure."

11th grade

11th grade student

Board of Education Student Advisor

Student Advisor, Board of Education
Jan. 2021 - Dec. 2021

North Mecklenburg High School

North Mecklenburg High School

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I think my first board meeting, my first official board meeting didn't end until like 12:00 AM or a little bit after midnight. It was absurd. One time I got out of a meeting at 8 and I was surprised.

As I go into the board meetings, I believe my main role, of course, is to advocate for the 140,000 K-12 students in CMS. But my main goal is equity, always equity. When I see something I'm thinking, is this equitable for all schools?

Originally being on the Board on Zoom, it was kind of peculiar because I could see the Facebook comments rolling in. We'll have like 4,000…more than 4,000 people watching a board meeting. And that means having over 4,000 opinions rolling in and the DMs coming into my phone and emails about people thinking I'm doing the right thing, the wrong thing, saying the right thing or wrong thing. So at first it was overwhelming. And then I learned to stop, not look at the Facebook comments. I had to learn that there is always going to be someone upset, especially when we were deciding whether to stay full remote or to return back to school.

I try to use my platform to share. I'll do surveys to hear what the students' voices have to say. I have over a thousand followers on Instagram, so I try to use Instagram the most. Sometimes you'll hear me at the end of the board meeting saying, “Seventy-two percent of the students that I just surveyed said this and forty-two percent said...," so I can give the board updates. And it's just amazing to feel like your voice is heard and the work that you are doing, all the hours that you are putting in, is all worth it because these people are going to make change for the students that you represent.

COVID allowed me to talk to my teachers one-on-one and ask more questions without feeling the pressure of the other students thinking, “Oh, Breana's the student advisor, but she doesn't know this answer,” but that's just me. I may overthink it, other people probably just don't care, but I really liked COVID in that sense. It allowed me to create a relationship with my teachers.

Over the course of quarantine, I've learned the difference between being an introvert and an extrovert. And I could see that I'm an introvert. I get most of my energy from being alone. And then I learned about social battery and things like that. And I found, especially being on the Board, hearing from different students, their perspective. And then hearing from my little brother, who's an extrovert and really seeing him sad and anxious and not be being able to finish his work to the best of his ability because he's not feeding off of people's energy and he'll just come in my room and just want to do his work in my room because he gets his energy from others. So I've learned that, although I am a speaker and I can speak to others, that does not mean that I'm not an introvert. Being an introvert means that I gain my energy from myself.

And I've learned that I'm very structured. I like to have schedules and planning and Excel sheets and all of that. I've learned my type of learning. It's ideal because I've learned these things my junior year. I've learned leadership skills, communication skills and all those social cues. So I have the foundation that I need. This junior year has allowed me to reflect and to do an internal assessment of how I can bring all that I’ve learned into my senior year and to college and how I can keep the structure. So that's why I'm grateful for this experience, although it's a pandemic.

- Breana

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