Local teen to serve on State Board of Education

  • Written by Deborah Stone
j_Matthew__SpencerMatthew Spencer is only 16 years old, but the WHS sophomore has a pretty clear idea what he wants to do with his life.

"I want to focus on educational reform," he says, "because I want to make education better for all kids. It’s important that everyone have a good education so they are well-prepared for life after high school, whether they go on to college or into the workforce."

Spencer will have an opportunity to gain firsthand experience with educational policies when he assumes his position on the State Board of Education next fall.

The teen was chosen after a competitive selection process to serve as one of two student representatives on the board.

"Matt competed for the position and it is great that he was selected, as he is from WHS and the Northshore School District," comments WHS principal, Vicki Puckett. "He will be a part of a larger picture with education reform. I am very proud that he was selected."

Spencer’s science teacher, Sylvia Law, who is also an ASB advisor at WHS, told the teen about the position and encouraged him to apply.

In his application, Spencer wrote of his qualifications and highlighted his character, paying special attention to such attributes as his intelligence, open mindedness, versatility and work ethic.

He was one of four finalists who were asked to interview in Olympia.

"I had to give a presentation on a current education issue," says Spencer. "I chose Core 24, the proposed new graduation requirement system, which requires high school students to take 24 credits instead of the current 21."

He adds, "I support this system because it will help keep students in school longer and gives them a better education as a whole. I believe it will make them better prepared for the next step in their lives, whether it’s college or a job. It also allows some flexibility, which I think is important."

During the interview, Spencer was asked to prioritize his values. He told the panel that he puts his family first, followed by his education, sports and friends.

In his position, the teen will attend State Board of Education meetings twice a month during the school year.

The meetings will be held throughout the state, requiring some travel for the youth.

"I see my role as a middleman between students and the board," Spencer comments. "I represent the students and express their concerns and views, and work with the board to make state reforms successful."

The teen isn’t intimidated by the prospect of being a student in a primarily adult milieu.

He is confident of his ability to make a contribution and notes that he is no stranger to leadership.

"I’ve been a captain and team representative for several sports teams," he adds, "and I think communication is one of my strong points."

Spencer’s term as student representative will last two years.

He plans to take the knowledge and the experience he gains and apply it to his continued studies in the field, with the aim of pursuing a career in education.

"Maybe I’ll be a superintendent of a school district," he says, "or do something with educational law. Helping make schools better for kids is my goal."

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