In February of 2013 I asked one simple question sitting in a classroom at a school I didn’t even attend.
“Why are there more teachers than students here?”
Another student, nearly four hours away, was thinking the same thing.
After following one another on Twitter and being pushed by a teacher we began a journey together. A journey that has turned into a movement that now has traction across the United States and beyond.
It was this time of year, four years ago, that Jack and I began planning for the first ever RISE conference. In our humble beginnings, we emailed and did weekly Google Hangout calls (which were a brand new technology then) with each other to plan a convening of Iowa students.
Nine months of shooting in the dark paid off on October 5, 2013. Over 200 students, community leaders, teachers, and parents gathered at Waukee High School to hear from students, about students.
Students led breakout sessions, we heard from world-renowned keynote speakers, and were invited to have a seat at the table going forward in Iowa.
Now, we’re celebrating four years of doing that very same work: hearing students, about students.
Today, it seems so simple, but was truly a revolutionary idea four years ago and still is not practiced in policy and procedure across education today.
We’ve grown a little since then, but try not to let it go to our heads. Jack and I have both gone off to college, we now have 501c3 standing, a dedicated board of directors, and a passionate team of student leaders continuing on our legacy.
Our reach over four years has been extraordinary. Since beginning in 2013, we have:
Interacted with 191 schools in Iowa. 105 of those, specifically, are high schools.
Engaged upward of 1,919 attendees at nine, in-person events.
Magically, after filtering duplicate attendees, engaged with upward of 1,518 attendees.
Presented to over 8000 students & teachers at conferences and workshops we've been invited to attend.
Connected with over 1,400 followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Created an email list of over 3,000 student voice advocates in Iowa alone.
In less than a month, we’ll hold our tenth event ever, The Student Voice Rally, that is projected to have the largest turnout of any event yet.
As much as I’d like to take credit for the student voice revolution in Iowa, I cannot. Jack and I are just two college students that know a lot about sending emails and social media. The true power lies in the 500,000 K12 students across our state all with great ideas. Though large in numbers, not all these students have unleashed their voice, and that’s where we come in.
Now more than ever, it’s imperative for students to be motivated, ideate together, and create the change they want to see.
Congratulations to the students, the advocates, and the success stories of four years. Our journey continues brighter than ever because of you.
-Ian & Jack