How we're empowering students to take control of their learning

How we're empowering students to take control of their learning
Posted on 01/19/2022
Student Choice and Voice

Mehlville School District is empowering its students to take control of their learning in the classroom, at their school and in their futures by providing opportunities for student choice and voice. 

In the classroom
A key theme of the Mehlville School District Strategic Plan to guide our work through the 2025-2026 school year is to provide students with a personalized learning experience to prepare them for life after high school. One way we’ve already taken steps to achieve this goal is through the creation of MOSAIC Elementary School and our Middle School Academies.
Middle School Academy
Image: Bernard Middle School seventh-grade Academy student Zeke McMullen interviews for a position at the North Pole after developing a resume and practicing his use of persuasive language.

Students enrolled in these programs are presented with blended learning opportunities, including project-based learning and inquiry-based learning. Students progress through each unit using learning menus, which provide students with a list of items to accomplish, allowing students to complete the work at their own pace, in an order that works best for them.

At MOSAIC Elementary, students also have a voice in how they display proficiency in each standard they’re learning throughout the year.

“In our math learning progressions and reading checklists, students have the opportunity to make teach and create lessons,” said Sarah Bradley, MOSAIC Elementary fourth-grade teacher. “They take the standard they’re working on and create their own piece of evidence to demonstrate mastery in what they’re learning.”

Students can design posters, build a product, create videos and more as part of their Teach and Create Lesson. Teachers post the completed product for other students to view as part of their learning.

“The teach and create part of our learning progression is one of the ways we show we know the lesson we’ve been working on,” said Tommy Moehlenbrock, MOSAIC Elementary fifth-grade student. “It helps me to build confidence to know that I can be informative to other students.” 
MOSAIC Elementary teach and create lesson
Image: MOSAIC Elementary fifth-grade student Tommy Moehlenbrock records a teach and create lesson about converting metric units.

In addition to these opportunities at the elementary and middle school level, Mehlville High School and Oakville High School are launching programs for the 2022-2023 school year designed to provide students with more personalized learning opportunities. Please speak to your child’s counselor if you’re interested in learning more about these programs.

At their school
Students also have an opportunity to work with school administrators to guide decisions about changes to the school. Some schools, like Washington Middle School and Oakville High School, do this through a principal’s advisory group.

“This is their school,” said Kelly Roberts, Washington Middle principal. “The goal of the principal’s advisory is to get student voice in decisions about things that happening around the school and for them to come to us with student concerns and things they would like to see fixed.”

At their first meeting in December, students in the Washington Middle Principal’s Advisory provided input on community-building activities the school could host over the next couple of months. 

“The principal’s advisory is something I wanted to be a part of because I like the idea of incorporating student input and being able to voice my opinion about different things going on in our school,” said Olivia Shon, Washington Middle eighth-grade student.

Our elementary school students are also being empowered to make decisions for their school. Bierbaum Elementary School principal Dr. Paul Morris engaged a committee of students from kindergarten through fifth grade to decide on the design for the school’s new playground.
Bierbaum playground meetingImage: Students from each grade level met with Bierbaum Elementary principal Dr. Paul Morris to provide feedback on the school's new playground.

At the district level, students from Mehlville High School and Oakville High School serve as student advisers to the Mehlville Board of Education to provide student insight into important decisions being made by the board.

In their futures
We’ve personalized learning at the high school level by creating different student choice programs and pathways for students to pursue topics they’re passionate about and prepare themselves for the future. One of those programs is the Early College Academy.

The program allows students to graduate high school with both a diploma and an associate degree. The entire cost of the program through St. Louis Community College is paid by the district.

“I chose the Early College Academy because the degree I want to pursue requires a lot of schooling, and I wanted to get ahead,” said Sam Keusenkothen, Oakville High senior. “I’ve had a really great experience, and I’ll already have 60 credit hours when I graduate high school.” 

In addition to the Early College Academy, the district launched a new program, Make it Count, this spring. Make it Count allows second-semester high school seniors who have completed their high school graduation requirements to enroll in a full semester of college classes at STLCC instead of taking additional classes at their high school. Mehlville School District was recently named a top district for dual enrollment after saving students an estimated $319,044 in future tuition costs during the 2020-2021 school year.
MHS MyPath presentation
Image: Mehlville High School senior Nicholas Karr presents his progress on his MyPath. He's been learning about oboe reed making, practicing with professional musicians from the St. Louis Symphony and auditioning for conservatories.

MyPath is another option for students to pursue topics they’re interested in. In MyPath, students students propose a personalized plan of study focused on post-secondary interests and goals. The student works with an instructor to create a project management plan. Within this plan, the student identifies topics to cover, learning goals, activities, and a timeline. The student creates periodic presentations on their learning and progress, culminating in a capstone presentation to a public audience. 
South Tech High School
Image: Mehlville High School class of 2021 graduate Josephine Sebunyenzi sanitizes in the dental classroom at South Tech High School during the 2019-2020 school year.

Off-campus electives at South Tech High School allow students to get a jump start on college, make connections with expert instructors, learn professional skills and develop a customized education and career plan.
Image: Students in the health pathway at STLCAPS collaborate with their classmates at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital during the 2019-2020 school year.

The St. Louis Centers for Advanced Professional Studies programs allow students to learn in a professional climate. They solve real-world problems, use industry-standard tools and are mentored by experts in one of four fields of study: Global Business and Entrepreneurship; Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing; Healthcare, Medicine and Bioscience; Technology Solutions and Logistics; and Careers in Education

Learn more about these programs on the Student Choice section of our website. You can also view our playlist featuring more stories about our student choice programs.

Join us for our Student Choice Program Night
Mehlville School District is hosting a Student Choice Program Night for families wanting to learn more about our high school choice courses. The event is Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, in the Nottelmann Auditorium (3200 Lemay Ferry Road) at 6:30 p.m.

The Mehlville School District strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment against employees, students or others on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or sex including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity and other characteristics protected by law. The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: contact Adam Smith at 314-467-5006 or [email protected].