ELA was recently featured in the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio's ESC Connections magazine, an online publication.
LEAD with an IDEA Empowers Fairview High School Students to Create Positive Change
Sometimes, being a strong leader means having a strong idea and vision for the future. As a group of Fairview High School students recently discovered, leadership can mean much more than that. Last school year, approximately 40 students participated in LEAD with an IDEA, a training program provided to students at FHS in conjunction with the Effective Leadership Academy (ELA).
“LEAD with an IDEA was created to guide students through a series of interactive discussions focused on inclusivity, diversity and empowerment, leading to the development of a school-wide student lead plan for change,” expressed Jessica Vaughn, talent manager with ELA. “Empathetic leadership and empowering action are skill sets that will impact students now and follow them throughout stages of their lives in any environment and circle of influence they may have.
“The first five or six weeks, it was all pretty much leadership development,” explained Ben Stoessner, a senior in LEAD with an IDEA. “There were videos that would show us scenarios and lessons. We had activities with groups. They encouraged us to sit with different people every week so that we could get to know people more and find out what makes them different from you, or similar to you.”
Besides learning leadership skills, styles, and personality types as part of the LEAD with an IDEA program, students identified what areas of the school could use improvement. A lack of school spirit and a need to promote inclusivity stood out for students. "We want to eliminate any type of discrimination towards any group that is different from your own group of people, trying to promote a new thought process and to empathize with people," said Stoessner.
“I feel like LEAD was one of the best things that could have happened,” said Alex Brown, another FHS senior in LEAD with an IDEA. “The group really did want to make a change in the school, even if you didn’t expect them to. It was a lot of you can’t judge a book by its cover. People who wouldn’t necessarily talk with each other were talking, and getting along with each other.”
Students submitted their report to building and district leadership, including the superintendent, as part of making real organizational change.
“When you’re in Fairview, you’re kind of in this bubble, and you have this security blanket that you kind of know everyone here and have experiences with them,” said Stoessner. “In college, it feels like you’re going into pretty much a whole new map of the world. You have to find a way to connect with people that are different from you.
“It’s what I took away the most,” added Stoessner. “I’m getting prepared for the rest of my life, and all those next chapters, to collaborate with people in my life that are different from me.”