Oswego SD308 student ambassadors making an impact on school board

Kaitlyn Jobes, left, and Aanya Roy are student ambassadors to the Oswego School District 308 Board of Education.

OSWEGO – Two Oswego School District 308 students are bringing their perspectives to the table as ambassadors to the board of education.

Aanya Roy and Kaitlyn Jobes, both 18-year-old high school seniors, represent the student body at Oswego School Board meetings.

This is just the second year for the student ambassador program, designed to gain direct student feedback for the board while providing the two representatives with experience in the world of local government and public speaking.

Roy, who attends Oswego East High School, was part of the program’s inaugural year and impressed board members so much that she was selected to repeat as a senior.

“Coming back, I’m really glad to be here,” Roy said. “Student voice is something that’s really important. I’ve taken these experiences and learned. I’m really excited to better myself.”

Joining Roy this school year is Jobes, an Oswego High School student with a passion for helping others.

Jobes has been active in the school’s BIONIC (Believe it or not I Care) student-run peer leadership organization, which has a mission to identify, train and empower student leaders.

“We show you that you can be your own hero,” Jobes said.

Jobes plays clarinet in the school band and aspires to a career in speech pathology. She is considering Elmhurst College and Illinois State University as possible next steps in her education.

Applying for the student ambassador role was for Jobes an opportunity to be of service.

“I really wanted to make a difference,” Jobes said. “I thought I could help other students.”

Roy said the experience of participating in the board meetings has meant professional development and building her public speaking skills.

Last school year, Roy worked to help develop a student survey that identified sexual harassment as a major concern of students at the two high schools and brought the issue to the attention of the School Board.

Roy is a certified nursing assistant and planning for a career in the health care field. She is interested in biomedical engineering and is eyeing the University of Illinois-Champaign after high school graduation.

Both Roy and Jobes are not shy about speaking up and board members frequently seek their perspective during discussions.

At the board’s Jan. 23 meeting, there was a discussion about the district’s efforts to provide students with social-emotional learning tools, including self-awareness, responsible decision-making and interpersonal relationship skills.

Board members soon solicited the opinions of their ambassadors on social-emotional learning.

“Building that environment is as important as those instructional lessons,” Roy said. “Let it organically happen.”

School Board President LaTonya Simelton said the ambassador program has gained notice in other school districts.

“I feel like it’s really coming to life,” Roy replied. “The vision was to be a model for the state and we hope to broaden our outreach.”