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CdM Senior Shane Fenmore with Superintendent Dr. Wesley Smith


When Corona del Mar High School Senior Shane Fenmore contemplated running for the position of his school’s Associated Student Body senior class president, he decided to attend Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Board of Education meetings to get a feel for that role. 

Instead of sitting quietly in the audience, Fenmore began advocating for his fellow students, providing comments, and weighing in on the issues he felt were important to his education. He wanted to build on that connection to Superintendent Dr. Wesley Smith, so he proposed an Experiential Learning Project (ELP) that would allow him to shadow the superintendent. 

“I watched the superintendent during the meetings, and I admired his leadership style. He made everyone feel heard and important. I wanted a stronger understanding of governance and effective leadership, and I wanted to learn how to be diplomatic and do what’s best for the greatest number of people,” Fenmore said. 

Dr. Smith believes that students' voice plays a crucial role in school district operations and decisions, as it offers unique perspectives and insights into the experiences and needs of those directly affected by educational policies. By actively involving students in decision-making processes, we are better equipped to serve their diverse needs.

“Kids are always watching, and they see how the adults around them behave. It’s crucial for our students to feel acknowledged and understood. Shane has witnessed our district’s commitment to students and knows that we hear them,” Dr. Smith said.

Fenmore has attended various meetings with Dr. Smith. He also has met one-on-one with the superintendent to gain a greater understanding of how schools and school districts are managed behind the scenes. 

“I think this experience will help Shane become more well-rounded. He’ll better understand not only his education, including how it’s formed, but also how different aspects of the district, school site, and state come together to provide him with his education,” said CdM ASB advisor Michael Dobyns.

Though he doesn’t plan to pursue a career in education, Fenmore believes he can use the knowledge he’s gained from shadowing Dr. Smith in his future with business or finance. 

NMUSD students must complete an ELP in their senior year of high school as part of their graduation requirements. ELPs offer students the opportunity to explore an area of passion or interest that connects their learning to experiences outside of the classroom. Advisors/mentors guiding students through their ELP journey must be mutually agreed upon by the student and the school and approved through the district's volunteer process.