Paul Andrews and a Redmond High student

Experiencing education through the eyes of students

Last month, I spent a full day going back to school. As an educator and administrator, I’ve been an observer in the classroom many times, but it’s been 33 years since I’ve attended high school myself and truly learned through the eyes of a student. It was an incredible opportunity that I took on as part of the national Shadow a Student Challenge.

Through the Shadow a Student Challenge,  HDESD is making an innovative shift to better understand our education system and we’re hoping to inspire educators and administrators throughout Central Oregon to do the same. This challenge is based on the concept of human-centered design, a growing movement in the business world to build a deeper empathy with the people for whom we’re designing. We believe this creative approach will generate new ideas and innovative solutions in education as well. It will help us to truly understand who we are designing learning for – our students.

CTE at Redmond High School

Because HDESD provides coordination and support to Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in our region, I chose to immerse myself into the day of a 10th grade student in the CTE program at Redmond High School.  The student I shadowed had classes in Welding, US History, Algebra 2, Chemistry, Ceramics and mentoring.  This was my first Shadow a Student Challenge and I relied on the national toolkit to guide my experience. The toolkit provides a very specific framework for a meaningful shadow experience. It began with establishing personal learning goals to clarify what I wanted to get out of the shadow experience.

This was a great opportunity to partner with Redmond High School to begin integrating the notion of learning directly from student insight and experience about where to innovate within education. Spending a day side-by-side with a student opens up a unique perspective that adults can’t experience otherwise.

The next step is for me to share my observations and insights with the CTE team and explore small ideas and opportunities that we might test to enhance the learning experience for students in our program.

Expanding Shadow a Student in Central Oregon

Moving forward, I hope to see Central Oregon become a leader in the National Shadow a Student Challenge. If you would like to learn more, visit the Shadow a Student Challenge website or contact Anna Higgins, our Director of Innovation at or (541) 693-5628.