A weekend interview with Tori Selby, student representative to the Hernando School Board
Tori Selby is making history. The 17-year-old senior at Springstead High School in Spring Hill was elected Wednesday to be the first-ever student representative on the Hernando School Board. The board created the position earlier this year at the recommendation of superintendent Bryan Blavatt with a goal to get a student’s perspective as the board makes policy. One of four candidates, Selby was elected by delegates from each of Hernando’s 22 schools. Selby spoke with reporter Tony Marrero this week, a few days before her first board meeting.
So what prompted you to run for the position?
My principal asked me if I wanted to do it. If somebody’s complaining about something, or if I’m complaining about something, I’m not one to just sit there and let it happen. I want to get out there and change it. I felt this position would let me do that, and let everybody else have a voice.
Do you feel like School Board members are as in tune with students’ concerns as they could be?
Not exactly. I don’t want to be rude toward them in any way, but I feel that they are adults and, yes, we’ve all been children and teenagers at one point, but my mom can’t remember a lot of how she felt in grade school and middle school and high school. I feel that, since we do have a student on the School Board now, they’ll be able to at least hear the concerns and how their policies are affecting students because it changes our futures and it affects our attitudes toward school.
How will you get feedback from your student constituents?
I plan to have suggestion boxes in all the media centers so that any students can drop in a suggestion or an idea. And then the e-mail address that I told would be assigned to me, as well. I have a class period now where I sit down and work on things for the School Board and the Springstead delegates said they’d sit down with me and we’d go through the e-mails. They’re a really great support team.
What would you say to people who think the student representative is just going to be a figurehead without any real power?
The intention of this position was to have a student’s opinion on the polices that are enacted, and I’m going to take my position seriously. The students trusted me enough to vote me in. They felt I was most qualified, and I’m not going to let them down.
What issues do you hope to bring to the board?
(One) would be the two mile busing. [The board voted earlier this year to eliminate bus service for students who live within two miles of school.] A lot of people came up and talked to me about that. There’s a girl at Explorer (K-8 in Spring Hill) who walks to school in the mornings with her first grade sister on Landover (Boulevard). There aren’t any sidewalks and I think it’s safety hazard. The other thing would be … trying to make sure that all the materials, whether it be textbooks or supplies or sports equipment, that the schools are getting those and the students are able to utilize them for their education.
Another thing would be to talk to the School Board about the field trip policy. It’s definitely something that’s been talked a lot about, and my concern is field trips are important. Ninety percent of what students learn is because they were actively doing something.
Some people are advocating a statewide student board of advisers to provide input to the state Board of Education or even the legislature and the Governor. What are your thoughts on that?
I think it would be a great idea, especially for any student who is up and coming in any of the counties in Florida. It would be something they’d be able to use to be involved. Not just to be involved, but they learn, as well.
What do you think you’ll learn this year?
I think that I will learn the responsibilities that the School Board has, because some of it is a little muddled in the students’ minds. I think that I’m also going to learn that I’m not going to please everybody but I’m going to do the best I can to be able to represent as many students as possible.