Watauga High School Junior Kelsey Marlett — one of two student members of the Watauga County Board of Education — is determined to use her tenure on the school board to make an impact on her community, and in her first year with the panel, she has already begun in earnest.
Last week, Marlett embarked on a self-propagated mission to reach out to student councils and leadership classes at elementary schools across the county to better inform herself of the needs and concerns of Watauga County School’s younger students.
Marlett said she wants to bring the voices of all Watauga students to the school board.
“From a broad perspective, my goal is to make a positive impact on the community by representing the needs of the students,” Marlett said. “I plan to do this by communicating with the students as much as possible, and relaying that information back to the school board.”
Marlett started her elementary school tour with a visit to Holly Klein’s seventh-grade leadership class at Valle Crucis Elementary School.
Klein’s students, who are in the process of kick starting a student council program at the school, were invited to question Marlett about the role of student government, and to share their thoughts on the school’s operation.
Marlett said the value in speaking with Watauga County School’s elementary students was in their unique perspective — one she said she was able to learn from herself.
“Younger students see the world differently,” Marlett said. “I am constantly inspired by their fearlessness and excitement for the future. So far, my greatest takeaway is that the students take pride in their community.”
She said other themes cropped up consistently in her discussions with elementary students as well.
“Students connect with their teachers and feel safe in their schools — that’s huge,” Marlett said. “I’m learning from the students that in order to address larger issues, we should always start with the people — with the community. There are so many amazing people in Watauga County. It’s exciting to think of what we can accomplish together.”
Klein said her students were well-served by Marlett’s visit.
“This was a great opportunity for my leadership class to see student representation in action,” Klein said. “Ms. Marlett’s visit allowed them to ask questions about school leadership and be advocates for their school. My students felt heard in a judgment free environment. She provided an excellent model and insight. Her visit was much appreciated.”
Watauga County School Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott praised Marlett’s effort.
“Ms. Marlett’s initiative and dedication are unsurpassed,” Elliott said. “I’ve had the opportunity to accompany her on two of her elementary school visits, and I am continually impressed with her poise and enthusiasm. I am very proud of her effort and look forward to working with her going forward.”