Amplifying Story and Cultivating Student Voice- Hans Appel’s P3
Hans Appel has worked as a counselor in the Richland School District for the past 19 years and at Enterprise Middle School since it opened. He’s passionate about school culture, servant leadership, and kindness. In 2018, EMS was awarded the ASCD Whole Child Award for the State of Washington and the Global “Class Act Award” for creating a culture of excellence through kindness, service, and empathy. Additionally, they were selected as a finalist in the 2019 PBIS Film Festival and took top prize in the Community, Parents, and Staff category. In 2018, Hans launched his own blog about School Culture and rolled out a student-led leadership podcast called Award Winning Culture: Hosted by Wildcat Nation.
Hans is also a writer. His blogs have appeared on DisruptED TV magazine, CharacterStrong, and PBIS Rewards. He’s written social-emotional lessons for CharacterStrong. Furthermore, has has been featured on numerous educational podcasts speaking his brand of school culture into existence. He’s been a contributing writer on two upcoming educational books: “ Define Your WHY” and “ALL IN: Taking a Gamble in Education.” Currently, he’s working on his own book about school culture.
For Hans, every day is different. He spends his time talking with and helping students in the middle school (Grade 6-8). “I love that age; I think that’s where kids need all the help and resources they can get.”
Around a year and a half ago, Hans helped to begin a student-leadership podcast at his school. There were passionate student learners, and they had begun with an overarching vision of finding ways to surround them with leaders and people who could inspire them. “ We thought, If we could create a platform where some of our student leaders could interact with these incredible folks, and then reflect on their learnings and share that out with other students, educators, and parents across the country.” They began with around 15 students and then, the student leaders trained a new crop of leaders in podcasting and more at a retreat last spring. “One of the best parts is watching other students that have now experienced what it’s like to have done an interview and all of the little nuances of putting together the podcast giving the new groups of students all of these suggestions and tips.” As a tribute to their leadership, Hans had educators and other podcast listeners share their reflections on the podcast in a video that he compiled as a celebration of their work. “[The students] got to sit back and listen to people from Australia and from Canada and from New York and from Oklahoma and from everywhere else across the country share what their work has meant to them.” This powerful video compilation was also a way to excite the new group of students who were taking on the student-led podcast the following year.
When preparing for his P3 Hans was sure it was going to be an easy task. “As I started digging through my own playlist, it really became this fun wormhole that I sort of crawled into.” He enjoyed the experience of discovering each song and deciding which one to go with.
Hans’ nostalgic song connects him to his high school experience and his wife, who was his high school sweetheart. This song was used for his senior year’s video yearbook, and it’s one that holds a lot of meaning and memories for him. “This specific song resonates with a point in my life where...I’ve met somebody that’s super important to me, I’m going off to college and kind of discovering who I am, and it just kind of brings me back to all of that.” While this song was a genre departure for the band, it’s a hugely popular song that has been played at many graduations and points of transition. Here is Good Riddance often called Time of Your Life, by Greenday:
Hans’ identity song is about being an educator. ‘When I think of [this song] I think of educators...we’re at the forefront of doing the most important work.” He referred to educators as “battle-tested” because of their calling in the professional as well as their willingness to persevere and fight for the students in their care. “The song feels so much about grit,” and fires Hans up as an educator. Here is Imagine Dragons’ Warrior:
Hans’ pick-me-up song speaks to him in his role as counselor. The song is called The Story , and our guest shared how significant it is that so much of his job and the job of educators is to help kids unpack their story. He spoke about empathy and trying to walk in the shoes of our students to help understand them so they can uncover their own story. Once they do, he can help them to amplify their story through such mediums as podcasting or writing or even just speaking. “If I can get them to come to terms with their own story and share that, not just with me but the world, that really empowers them.” This song really reminds Hans that we all have a story that’s worth getting to know. In the song lyrics, it says that these stories don’t mean anything unless you have someone to tell it to, and Hans reflected on his job of being that listening ear for students’ stories. Here’s Brandi Carlile:
If you want to find out more about Hans, you can go to his website. If you want to get in touch with Hans, you can reach out through Twitter or through his gmail. If you want to read more about Hans and his work, you can go to http://www.awardwinningculture.com where you will find the audio for the student-led podcast. You can also hear the Award Winning Culture podcast, hosted by Wildcat Nation, on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, PodBean, and Libsyn. You can subscribe and/or add a review. You can also follow AWC on twitter at @awculture or the student podcast at @awcpodcasting or Instagram @awardwinningculture. Wildcat Nation is on Instagram at @emscounseling.