Written By: Hans Appel
If we want to create the leaders of tomorrow, there is no better time to develop our students as leaders than TODAY.
Last May, I announced to the educational world that we were launching a student-led leadership podcast without any expertise, equipment, or know-how. Indeed, this was a HUGE professional risk and prior to launching I certainly had my fair share of haters and naysayers telling us all the reasons why it wouldn’t work. However, 35 episodes recorded, overcoming countless failures and hurdles, and nearly a year later, our students have proven that empowering student voice is a sure fire winner in the land of school culture and climate.
From the very beginning students embraced a growth mindset for risk-taking and a desire to create exceptional content for an authentic audience. Award Winning Culture has become a recognized beacon of hope for what passion-project based learning can look like in #FutureDriven schools. The benefits to both our podcasters AND the Wildcat Nation community are overwhelming! However, it’s become clear that our students influence has had a ripple effect across K-12 education around the world. Students, educators, and parents download our inspiring conversations. Our students presented, wrote, and shared their experiences with people all over the world. Some of the brightest leadership minds around have cited their podcast in their own professional work. Furthermore, they’ve been approached by multiple sponsors before finally agreeing to terms with a company THEY truly believe in. It’s been quite a ride…
This past weekend, we had our first annual AWC Podcast Retreat. As we celebrated student content through reflection, team-building, and planning, this year’s podcasters taught new podcasters the art of interviewing, listening, and researching their guests. [A special shoutout to Morgane Michael from KindSight 101 for the incredible feedback, interviewing tips, and encouragement]. Such a joy to see these amazing students influencing through their own personal successes and failures. A highlight for me was watching a veteran 7th grade podcaster teaching a new 6th grader perfect mic posture to maximize voice quality. The level of attention to detail was so INTENTIONAL!
One of our BIG surprises was a video we created from listeners, supporters, and fans all around the world. Such a POWERFUL message to show our students the far reach of their words and actions. Knowing that they’ve inspired students to try podcasting, had authors use their work in writing projects, and impacted educators views on leadership and learning----LIFE CHANGING!!
THANK-YOU to EVERYONE who shared video content and/or written reviews with us!!
Next year, we have dozens of memorable guests already lined up to be on the podcast including several big surprises. While we’ll continue to produce regular podcasts, our students are pushing for a bigger influence...a bigger voice...a BIGGER CHALLENGE! They’ve felt the impact their words and their work have had and now they want to E X P A N D !
Coming this fall, we’ll be launching AWC-tv.
In a similar vein as our podcast, AWC-tv is a student-led exploration focusing on Character, Excellence, and Community within the video lens of a middle school student. They’ll be funny, informative, and inspiring segments and dialogue geared toward raising the bar on meaningful streaming, from the heart. Our students have laid down the gauntlet for the creation of this new student-led medium and Wildcat Nation educators are committed to "Take the L.E.A.P: Ignite a Culture of Innovation" [Shout-out to Elisabeth Bostwick!!] Just like the podcast, there will undoubtedly be a steep learning curve and countless failures but if I’ve learned anything the past 15 months, kids these days are capable of accomplishing anything!
I officially invite you to tune-in to our next experiential Wildcat Nation journey by following #AWCtv
Coming Fall 2019...
**What brave new educational journey will you try this fall?
**What barriers are you willing to breakdown to provide a life-changing platform for your students?
**What role does student voice play in the vision, culture, and planning of YOUR school?
My friend, Darren Ellwein, principal of South Middle School, speaker, blogger and co-author of The Revolution: It’s Time to Empower Change in Our Schools says:
“If you want to start a revolution, it starts by asking kids what THEY need.”
Who’s with us??
About the Author
Hans Appel has worked as a counselor in the Richland School District for the past 18 years and at Enterprise Middle School since it opened. He’s passionate about school culture, servant leadership, and kindness. In 2018, EMS was awarded the ASCD Whole Child Award for the State of Washington and the Global “Class Act Award” for creating a culture of excellence through kindness, service, and empathy. Recently, Hans launched his own blog about School Culture and this fall rolled out a student-led leadership podcast called Award Winning Culture: Hosted by Wildcat Nation, which can be subscribed, listened or reviewed on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, and Libsyn. He can be contacted at email@example.com. Follow Hans on twitter @hansappel094. Follow AWC on twitter at @awculture or Instagram @awardwinningculture. Wildcat Nation at @emswildcats1 and Instagram @emscounseling #WildcatNation #AwardWinningCulture
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.