Leadership Shawnee Mission 2023 - Developing Student Leaders

Leadership Shawnee Mission 2023 - Developing Student Leaders
Shawnee Mission School District

School may be out of session, but this summer 28 Shawnee Mission juniors and seniors have been working on cultivating their leadership skills through Leadership Shawnee Mission. 

Leadership Shawnee Mission is a premier leadership development program offered by the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation

Educators across the district nominate students they think would be strong candidates and these students are then invited to apply. The intensive, two-week program focuses on providing a comprehensive understanding of leadership principles and encouraging personal growth among participating students. Through hands-on exercises, self-assessments, and collaborative games, students learn how to effectively communicate, build trust, and foster positive relationships.

SM North senior Luis Guzman shared that the program has been a great experience so far. 

“I had no clue what I was getting into, but after the first day all of my expectations were blown away,” said Guzman. 

“Everything we do pertains to learning about leadership, but it doesn’t feel like that because you’re having so much fun. You do come out with a lot of takeaways, they make it so worth it for you,” he added.

As part of the program, each student is paired with a mentor who guides and supports them along their leadership journey. Mentors, who are experienced professionals, provide valuable  Real World Learning advice, share their knowledge, and serve as role models. 

Being matched with a career mentor has been a highlight for SM West senior Ariana Kamugisha, who hopes to become an attorney after high school. Kamugisha is being mentored by Joy Springfield, director of pro bono at Kansas Legal Services. 

“I thought it was really cool they found me a mentor here in Kansas City who is a lawyer and went to Howard University. It is exactly what I want to do,” expressed Kamugisha. “My mentor has already given me the chance to job-shadow with her. It’s a great opportunity.”

SM North senior Miguel Tapia Becerra expressed his gratitude for the lessons in leadership he has learned.

“One of the most important things I’ve taken away from this program is that leadership is not a position, it’s a disposition,” explained Becerra. “I thought about what that means and realized leadership is not really a position. It’s the way you go about in the world and work to solve problems and find solutions.”

To commemorate the conclusion of the program, students will graduate from Leadership Shawnee Mission in a ceremony celebrating their newly-developed leadership skills. 

Kim Hinkle, executive director of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation, looks forward to seeing how students use their newly acquired skills in the future. “The networks they have developed with each other and with their mentors will serve them well as they step into their futures. I can’t wait to see how these students go forward as leaders in their schools and as they continue into college and career.”

Upon completion of the program, students become part of the Leadership Shawnee Mission alumni network. Alumni are encouraged to stay connected with the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation and share their experiences and accomplishments.