The Equity and Empathy Ambassadors are a group of high school students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools that collaborate directly with the superintendent to develop equitable policies for students in the district.
Nyah Hamlett, the superintendent of CHCCS, said she developed and created the program to amplify student voices in the school district.
“I felt like it was really important since I've been in the superintendency — I've been here for three years — to have a direct connection to students,” Hamlett said.
Hamlett said the program is a good opportunity for CHCCS students to collaborate across schools.
“We have four high schools so they have the opportunity to collaborate across schools to really develop their own leadership skills, but also to really represent their school community in taking what we talk about and the work that we do back to their school in order to improve the culture and climate of their schools,” she said.
The program is application-based. Forty students are selected to participate and meet with Hamlett regularly to learn about district initiatives, policies and programs.
Hamlett said the students in the program have implemented wellness days, made recommendations to the school board about school safety, advocated for teacher professional development and helped revise grading and homework policy.
Though the students also advocated for eliminating class rank, Hamlett said class rank is codified in the state law so the district decided to move from a valedictorian designation to the Latin honor system.
Andy Jenks, the chief communications officer for CHCCS, said student voice is critical to having the best possible learning environment.