As a student-led conference greeter inside LEAD Cameron, 8th-grader Rosie said she looked at the opportunity as one for both herself and fellow students to meet with adult volunteers much like they would for a  job interview.

It gives me a chance to interact with people and work on my social skills,” she said. “If you’re doing a job interview, you’re not going to know the manager or person who hires you going in. So you have to be professional. This is beneficial to (students’) lives and it will help them a lot.”

Inside the historic school’s gymnasium, adult volunteers met with students from both Cameron and LEAD Academy as the schools wrapped up this year’s conferences, known as SLCs. The conversations allow for students to share their academic progress for the school year -- in addition to sharing other components of their academic growth thus far, said Regina Schumacher, Cameron’s Dean of Instruction.

“It empowers our students to take ownership over their education and all of the things that go into their education,” she said. “It allows our students to talk about their grades, but also how much effort goes into their education. For instance: what are they passionate about? And what are they interested in in their classes? These are honest and candid conversations.”

SLCs encourage students to take ownership of their education through reflection and goal setting. For each class, students worked hard to put together a portfolio of their work, goals, and personal reflections. As a part of SLCs, Cameron hosts a banquet and invite parents and guardians to meet with their students to discuss the student’s academic and behavioral progress. Because some family members are unable to attend, LEAD has traditionally opened up the conferences to volunteers from across Nashville.

More than 150 volunteers participated in the Cameron and LEAD Academy SLCs last week. Another two dozen or so participated at Brick Church this week. LEAD Southeast in Antioch held their SLCs for the middle school earlier this month and the high school hosted theirs last night. Neely’s Bend will run SLCs next month.

Among the volunteers inside the Cameron gym were Calah Caballero, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in school counseling at Vanderbilt University, and Dr. Carl Darris, a nephrology and hypertension research fellow, also at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Caballero, for one, said she loved the conversations.

It’s sweet being able to talk to students,” she said. “They feel that this time is actually valuable for them and it’s good for them to have this self-advocate moment for themselves.”

Dr. Darris agreed.

“There are ways to enrich their education and this is one of them,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed listening to the kids verbalizing some of the decisions they have made, like do I go to tutoring or do I hang out with my friends.

“They realize that these are decisions that have to be made, and these are the same types of decisions you have to make throughout the course of your life,” he continued. “If you start making the right decisions now, than you’re putting a template in place that you can follow throughout your life. It will lead to success.”

For more photos from SLCs, please check out our Facebook page here.