I am distraught that our young people are being exposed to a level of inappropriateness that seems unparalleled in our country. Needless to say, I think our leaders in both parties can do much better of working together for the greater good of our country.
To contrast what is happening in Washington D.C., I am encouraged by the efforts of student leaders in our local high schools. This past week I’ve read some very encouraging articles about the commitment and success of student leaders participating in the organization, Teen Leadership Corps. These young people and their adult leaders appear to understand the need to lead positively by their actions and their words.
About 11 years ago I had a former educational associate approach me about an innovative program involving student leadership.
She asked me a very pointed question: “What do your students need most in their development as a leader?” I didn’t hesitate: “There needs to be a leadership curriculum developed that focuses on developing true student leadership that includes service as a vital component and is sustainable into their future.” She responded: “I have a plan and a curriculum that will do just that, are you interested?”
True servant leaders put “others” ahead of themselves on a daily basis. True servant leaders are confident in their ability and desire “to serve.” Drive and ambition are shaped by the service attitude for the true servant leader. Advancement for many servant leaders comes to them naturally and they don’t seek out the advancement for prestige or money alone. Finally, the true servant leader does so out of “love” — love for those they serve, love for those who support them — and love for those they lead.
Teen Leadership Corps was created by St. Paul graduate, the late Mary Ann Creamer.
She piloted the first service learning classes while teaching in the Huron City Schools. Creamer developed a caring and serving attitude among many of Huron’s graduates for years. She shared that legacy among many area schools in northern Ohio and in Indiana. Her dream of spreading the good news of service leadership will hopefully spread to the Columbus and Cleveland area in the next few years. She was passionate about service leadership and spent her adult life living and promoting TLC. She became my inspiration as an educator.
On a recent Wednesday a large group of servant leaders (TLC members from 20 area schools) came together to collaborate to discover new ways to work with each other. Partisanship and politics were pushed aside as they worked to achieve what the founder of the organization desired: “to lead, serve and inspire the world.” While Mary Ann Creamer is no longer with us, her dream of creating an organization that will provide a means for our young people to excel is alive and well. We are blessed to see our young people become great leaders in their respective communities and schools.
Local columnist Dennis Doughty is the president of Norwalk Catholic and St. Paul High schools.