Description & Goals:

In this webinar, participants will hear directly from middle school students from Roosevelt Magnet School in Peoria, Illinois, as they share what motivates them to be more involved in their school and community. Then, a panel of educators will have the chance to respond to students’ thoughts. The educators will also share strategies they use to encourage students to speak up in their schools and communities and ways educators can center students’ voices in the classroom.   

Participants will:

  • Consider how they can use their classroom platform to motivate students to take more risks
  • Gather ideas for ways they can empower students 
  • Learn how to listen to students in order to lift up students’ voices in the classroom and in the larger learning community 


Amber Searles (Host)Amber Searles is currently a Curriculum and Instructional designer and consultant at Center for Responsive Classroom. She began her education career as a middle school business education teacher. Implementing Responsive Classroom practices and strategies allowed her to receive the Teacher of the Year award from her school district and community members. 




Stephanie Griffin Stephanie Griffin is the Director of Instrumental Music at Roosevelt Magnet in Peoria, Illinois. Stephanie is currently in her tenth year of teaching, eight of which have been at Roosevelt Magnet. During her time at Roosevelt, When Stephanie was faced with a record number of students interested in band and an inadequate number of working instruments, she orchestrated a national instrument drive which brought in over twenty thousand dollars in gently used instruments.  In 2019, Stephanie established the first Rock Band(Modern Band) program in Peoria Public Schools. Modern Band was made possible by grants and community support. Stephanie uses passion, student voice, and community outreach to continually grow her program year after year.


Ellie Zatorski – Ellie Zatorski teaches middle school choir and general music at Roosevelt Magnet School in Peoria, IL. She received her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Northern Illinois University. During that time, she took part in the Golden Apple Scholars Program, a program designed to prepare future teachers to work in urban and underserved areas of Illinois. This gave her unique experiences that most pre-service teachers do not have, including a week-long course in Responsive Classroom techniques and training in Trauma-Informed Teaching.