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4-15-24 — Leadership Conference Instills Confidence in Students

April 15, 2024 ~ Last week, nearly 100 junior leaders from all five high schools and Mill Creek Campus gathered at the Instructional Resource Center for the Student Leadership Conference. Students spent the day engaging in dialogue, interacting in workshop sessions and networking with other student leaders and local professionals in the community.

The annual event teaches students how to be a leader within themselves and how to overcome the common challenges in leadership. This year’s theme, taking inspiration from the hit show “Ted Lasso,” focused on teamwork and students’ ability to grow and “believe” in themselves as they learn how to be leaders in their schools.

“You can’t believe in anything until you believe in yourself,” Director of Culture and Belonging Kathleen Smith said. “When you leave today, you’re going to leave with positivity and confidence in yourself.”

After Smith’s introduction, guest speaker Elijah Dormeus, Founder of the I AM Foundation in Kansas City, conducted a powerful activity where students wrote down negative words that they tell themselves on a piece of paper, and they learned that those words are only as strong as what they make of them. Then, they spoke these positive words aloud in unison: “I am enough. I am able. I can do it.”

“Those negative words may be inside you, but you hold more power in you than you know. You are enough,” Dormeus said. “Bring yourself back to this moment and remember that you have a purpose, you are strong, and you are a leader.”

Also invited to speak at the conference was Jessica Mauderer, author of “Love Life. Be Life. Share Life,” and former Kansas City Chiefs player Shawn Barber. Mauderer talked to students about ways that they can create their own sunshine through their leadership journey, whether it be getting a good amount of sleep, eating healthy, or literally getting some sun. Barber taught students the “7 Cs” of leadership — culture, camaraderie, cohesion, chemistry, cooperation, competition and communication — and discussed his difficult journey to the NFL.

We also had several district representatives that helped make this event possible. Recruitment Liaison Amy Hillman engaged with students about leading with passion, power and purpose. In breakout sessions Director of Teacher Induction and University Partnerships Dr. Ann Addison and Math Coordinator Spencer Brown worked with students on their leadership style and philosophy. Olathe Northwest High School coaches Lorne Clark and Joel Branstrom held a session on “The Coaches Playbook to Successful Leadership.”

“This day was really amazing,” Olathe South High School junior Addie Posch said. “It taught me how to be a leader and the different skills that I can take with me, like using my gifts to motivate others and encouraging people to use their gifts as well.”