After the Table

Communities in Schools Helps Students Vocalize Needs to Administration

Pictured above: Chicago Public Schools students from three elementary schools discuss their peers’ needs during a leadership training program sponsored by Communities in Schools of Chicago.

By Raquel Venado

Pictured above: Chicago Public Schools students participate in an icebreaker exercise during their leadership training program, sponsored by Communities in Schools of Chicago, which received a $2,500 Acting Up award to develop the program.

“It really does feel great to have adults listen to your point of view,” said one student at Communities in Schools of Chicago’s On the Table last year.

Communities in Schools of Chicago is giving students a voice. What started as On the Table conversations in 30 schools last year developed into a student leadership program supported by a $2,500 Acting Up award from The Chicago Community Trust.

Fifteen students in the sixth through eighth grades at Doolittle Elementary, King Academy of Social Justice and Westcott Elementary participated in the leadership program, which trained students in identifying their own leadership style, brainstorming the needs of their peers at school and conducting formal presentations.   

“The Student Leadership Program provides a space to amplify student voices by building students’ leadership skills, presentation skills and crucial social and emotional learning skills,” said Karen Roddie, intern program manager and behavioral and mental health specialist at Communities in Schools of Chicago.

The program involved three training sessions and a final presentation. At the third training session, a CIS of Chicago staff member visited each school to help students prepare for their final presentation , where they told their school´s administrations their needs, why they were important and what potential programs would look like.

“The program has allowed students to have a safe space to share their thoughts and opinions about who they are as leaders,” said Karen. “It has also allowed them to make decisions about what they believe students in their schools need in order to be successful.”

Pictured above: Karen Roddie, intern program manager at Communities in Schools of Chicago

Pictured above: Taken from