I originally created Leaders UNITE with two goals in mind: 1.) showing students that leadership can be fun and 2.) showing students that anyone can be a leader. Zooming in on the second goal, it was very important to me that students understood that they did not have to fit a stereotypical leadership mold or personality in order to become successful leaders. Therefore, this goal took on a role not only encompassing activities and discussions, but also encompassing ways of helping students become more confident in their own abilities and personalities. This year especially, I have had the opportunity to not only share Leaders UNITE with students and teachers, but also with students’ parents. I have recently had the opportunity to talk with quite a few students’ parents and guardians, and was very happy with the feedback I have received about Leaders UNITE on the students’ confidence and demeanors.
Some parents have recently told me that Leaders UNITE has helped their children to come out of their shell- at school and even at home. As a club, we always want students to feel comfortable with their own personalities, showing students that they can become successful leaders even if they aren’t the most talkative or “stereotypical” types of leaders. To hear that some students felt more comfortable being themselves at school and at home because of this club just makes me so happy to hear.
Some parents have also recently told me that Leaders UNITE has helped their children to feel more comfortable interacting with their peers. One thing we often highlight in Leaders UNITE is teamwork, and that it is important to know your teammates on a personal level to know their strengths/interests/how they can best contribute to the team. A huge part of this is making sure that students become comfortable interacting with their peers and being themselves around their peers. Therefore, to see some students go from rarely interacting with their peers to then becoming comfortable enough to openly interact with their peers makes me very happy.
This feedback from parents is particularly meaningful to me because although I can often see changes in students’ confidence over the months, I only get to see them during Leaders UNITE. Of course, I definitely can see improvements in students’ participation, leadership, etc. throughout our sessions, but I don’t often get indication as to how this club affects students in their daily lives. Therefore, it is so nice to hear that there are meaningful differences in students’ confidence levels that are noticeable each and every day. This is the kind of impact we want to have on students- not just making them more comfortable with me or the idea of leadership, but helping to create a positive image of themselves and their abilities that lasts much longer than their time at Leaders UNITE.
I am so proud of the environment we have created, and by the fact that Leaders UNITE was able to make a meaningful impact on these students’ lives. I surely hope that the club can continue to do this for many years to come.