Sarah Zelley Gives Student Voice to Personalized Education in Vermont

Target 2 – Leadership in a Student Centered Learning Environment: FWSU will foster development of teacher & student leaders who provide innovative opportunities for local and global student-centered learning.

Action Step – Provide multiple avenues for students and staff to lead, advocate, and serve within the school and community.

On Friday BFA Fairfax Senior and Center of Technology in Essex student Sarah Zelley had the honor of serving on a student panel at the Vermont School Board Association and Vermont Superintendents Association annual conference. Sarah was one of six students to serve on the esteemed panel that sought to give student voice to education. The students, especially Sarah, all showed amazing insight as to how state educational leaders could make school more personalized for today’s students.

We had the opportunity to catch up with Sarah about her experiences.

Can you tell us how you came to be selected to serve on the student panel? Sarah: I think I was chosen to be on the student panel because of my strong sense of community and desire to represent my school.  I have done other panels of similar nature before for advocacy of youth rights and have experience in public speaking.

What did you learn from serving on the panel? Sarah: What I learned the most was that there are people willing to listen as long as you are willing to rise to the occasion.

If you had to give more advice to educational leaders on how to make schools a better place for students, what would it be?  Sarah: I think our educational leaders do a great job with the resources they have. I think that improvement is made when educational leaders can be on a personal level and understand the needs of the students. I think it is important to make resources available for students, creating opportunities out-of-school to help increase learning, and make higher education during high school easier to achieve.

What excites you most about your education, both at BFA and at CTE?  Sarah: What excites me most about my education is that it’s pretty much endless at this point. CTE has expanded my opportunities beyond what I had ever thought possible. Through CTE, I’ve earned 21 credits so far and I am working towards more. At CTE there is actual experience associated with our learning. I’m doing a paid internship at UVM in the computer field and will continue for the rest of the year.

What are your plans for the future? Sarah: I’m working towards college. I don’t know what my major will be yet. Possibly political science, human services, social work, or peace in third-world countries.

Do you have any advice for students just beginning high school?  Sarah: Never give up. When the going gets rough (which it will) it’s important not to give up. I also think learning to accept help and then offering help to others is key. High school is going to be a really weird and amazing time of your life and it’s just important to make the best of it.

5 thoughts on “Sarah Zelley Gives Student Voice to Personalized Education in Vermont

  1. Sarah, you did a wonderful job. Thank you so much for your willingness to participate in the panel and the grace with which you did it! CTE is proud of your accomplishments.


  2. Sarah, your comments at the conference were provocative and insightful. Many superintendents told me how much they appreciated your frankness and perspective. The system shift to learner-centered, on demand, personalized and customized learning will only be possible if students become engaged with the work. Thanks for your involvement! You brought great pride to CCSU. We love that student voice was part of the VSA Education Quality presentation (


  3. Sarah,
    Thank you for your committment to your education and community. Congratulations on your accomplishments thus far and best wishes in your future endeavors. You are sure to shine!


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