The Leadership Shawnee Mission Class of 2020 completed their seminar in April of 2021.
“To say this group of leaders are resilient, is an understatement,” Kim Hinkle, Shawnee Mission Education Foundation executive director shared. Click here to watch a video about LSM 2020.
Leadership Shawnee Mission is an invitation-only development program of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation.
Students were originally scheduled to participate in their seminar in June of 2020, but the workshop was postponed due to the pandemic. With some creative rescheduling, students participated in leadership seminars on teacher workdays during the spring semester.
Students’ adaptability was evident in the team projects they completed as part of the program. The school district provided five different challenges to be addressed and explored including food insecurity, access to broadband internet, sustainability, communication with ELL (English Language Learner) families, and vaccine hesitancy. The teams of students conducted research, worked with district mentors, and designed solutions to each of the challenges.
The leaders challenged to address food insecurity suggested an option of delivering food to households where families might not have transportation to pick up breakfast and lunches from schools. They also recommended opening a district-wide food pantry that might have a larger variety of perishable and non-perishables that SMSD families need.
A student team working on internet access suggested connecting with providers who have low-cost or no-cost internet availability. While they acknowledged that the hot spots the district had purchased were being used, this would provide a more sustainable, long-term solution.
The sustainability team focused on air quality, with the emphasis of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). In their research, they determined that some potted plants have the
ability to improve air quality and reduce VOC levels. They suggested improving air quality by furnishing each classroom with a live plant. They shared a budget that is significantly lower when pots and low-maintenance plants are purchased in bulk. They also pointed out that qualities like responsibility and teamwork could be learned by students caring for a plant. They suggested older students could mentor younger students to help keep the program viable year after year.
Leaders working on the communication challenge for families, where English is being learned, suggested a district Facebook page where all announcements could be posted in different languages. They selected Facebook because research indicated many ELL families use this platform regularly.
The two students who tackled vaccine hesitancy used survey information from staff and students to develop a proposed solution that included education through handouts and announcements. They suggested using advisory time to educate students with fact-based vaccine information.
“The solutions they suggested are exactly some of the methods our nurses and I are using as we work to educate and vaccinate our families and community members,” Shelby Rebeck, director of Health Services and team mentor, noted.
Following the presentation, the students participated in a graduation ceremony conducted by Allison Leone, Director, Tucker Leadership Lab with William Jewell College. She and two colleagues facilitated the leadership seminar.
“I would recommend that any student who is nominated for this opportunity should definitely participate,” Trinity Peterson, SM North senior shared. “Be open to meeting new people and sharing new ideas. Leadership Shawnee Mission is a new place to belong.”
The Leadership Class of 2021 nominations were received in March and the class will commence in June.