Vail Daily column: Youth leader helps improve school system | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Youth leader helps improve school system

Carol Johnson
Youth Leader Spotlight

Bella Rubis

Bella Rubis, 15, wasn't sure what to expect when she was selected to be one of several student representatives for the Eagle County Schools District Accountability Committee earlier this year. Going to a meeting with a bunch of parents and Superintendent of Eagle County Schools Jason Glass once a month is a daunting proposition for any teen. However, after several meetings, Bella was pleasantly surprised to learn she could share ideas, respond confidently to questions and that her voice mattered.

"Everyone is open to what I have to say," said Rubis. "I feel important when they ask me to give input."

Agendas for the meetings cover a plethora of areas including transportation, individual school performance, gifted education, special education, healthy lunches and class sizes. Rubis is able to share her thoughts from a student's perspective with a group of parents and community members who represent each public school in the district and school administrators who are asked to report on certain topics.

"The need for small class size is a hot topic I have heard a lot about at school," Rubis said. "I have a very strong opinion about this topic. It's nice to be given this platform and have my voice heard."

Once students found out Bella was serving on the District Accountability Committee, they starting approaching her with questions, ideas and solutions to problems. Bella is very comfortable passing this information along to the committee in the hopes that changes will be made.

"Although we are not mandated by the state to include student representatives on the District Accountability Committee, Eagle County Schools looks for opportunities to encourage a platform for students to have a voice and provide leadership opportunities," Glass said.

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If anything, Rubis has learned that there's a lot more to solving school issues than meets the eye and making sure kids have a good environment in which to learn.

"There's a lot going on internally to make things happen in the District," she said. "It's not as simple as it looks."

It's also not so simple to fit in this commitment with a renaissance girl like Rubis, who is busy scoring goals for the Battle Mountain High School junior varsity soccer team, singing and acting in the musical production of "Annie Get Your Gun" and helping out with Best Buddies International club. Jumping from one activity to the other has helped her learn to prioritize and remember what is most important.

"We live in such a wonderful community that has given me so much. It's important to give back," Rubis said. "For some reason I strive for more when I have a lot going on in my life. I balance it with good communication with the coaches and directors to make sure they know where I am and what's going on. It's important to keep everyone informed."

Thank you for sharing your voice and keep up the good work, Bella!

Carol Johnson is the marketing and administrative coordinator at the Eagle River Youth Coalition. The Youth Leaders Council is currently accepting applications for high school students. In addition to the Youth Leaders Council, the Youth Coalition tackles three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth including substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness and mental health promotion, and academic achievement. The Eagle River Youth Coalition also offers parenting education. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit http://www.eagleyouth.org.