Oologah-Talala Senior McHale Baker is one of 74 Oklahoma students invited to take part in the 2019 Student Advisory Council.
For the fourth consecutive year, high school students from a variety of metropolitan, suburban and rural school districts will meet with State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister to voice their concerns and offer suggestions.
Baker was nominated to participate by her principal, and filled out a brief application detailing her involvement in school.
An accomplished student, Baker is a concurrent student at RSU, a member of the National Honor Society, a member of student council and class Valedictorian.
After graduation, Baker plans to study sociology at OSU, with a semester abroad in England. Her career aspirations, while not set in stone, are leaning toward non-profit work or education.
Baker draws her knowledge of public education from experience as a student and because both of her parents are teachers at Oologah-Talala.
“There are a lot of issues with public education in Oklahoma,” Baker said. “I can see a lot of the problems that other kids can’t see, so I think that I’ll be a great person to go to this and have a discussion with Joy Hofmeister.”
Baker said that she loved growing up with her parents as teachers because they were close by if she needed them. The downside was not seeing them when they were at their second jobs.
“They’ve both always had second jobs because the pay isn’t super high,” Baker said. “They’ve taught me a lot about work ethic and they’ve given up so much for me.”
Students will meet with Hofmeister twice in the spring semester. The first meeting will be in Oklahoma City on Jan. 31.
“I hope that she will be very open to what students have to say,” Baker said. “I think that all the students who will be there will have different opinions and great ideas.”
Baker was optimistic that the meetings this semester will be productive and bring about positive change for the state.
“Students know what is going on because we are in the schools,” Baker said.
Baker highlighted substitute teacher shortages and emergency certification as the big issues, both caused by the states inability to retain teachers.
Her solution is to recruit and retain qualified, talented educators by increasing teacher pay.
“These are among Oklahoma’s best and brightest high school leaders, and we look forward to learning more about the student perspective on matters of school policy,” Hofmeister said in a public statement. “Working with these outstanding young people is a highlight of every spring, and their input on topics as diverse as bullying, career readiness and school funding has been instrumental to our state-level decision-making.”