Highlights from Leadership Shawnee Mission 2024

Students in front of a Leadership Shawnee Mission sign
Shawnee Mission School District

Every summer, a select group of incoming juniors and seniors from the Shawnee Mission School District begins on a transformative journey known as Leadership Shawnee Mission. 

A premier program of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation, Leadership Shawnee Mission is a prestigious, invitation-only experience designed to develop the next generation of leaders. 

Kim Hinkle, executive director of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation, explained that a strength of the program is its approach, which combines career mentorship experiences with interactive sessions that focus on developing skills critical for leadership. 

“Through hands-on activities and real-world scenarios, students learn to navigate and resolve conflicts, communicate effectively, and take on responsibilities with integrity. They also have a lot of fun,” explained Hinkle.

“The results of this approach speak for themselves,” she said. It’s incredibly exciting to witness the transformation in our students. From the first day of the program to the end of the two-weeks, they grow and develop so much. It’s amazing.”

For incoming SM East senior Gracie Bergin, a standout feature of the program has been the career mentorship experience. Bergin, currently enrolled in the Project Blue Eagle Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Signature Program, was paired with a mentor who is a paramedic.

“I really enjoyed speaking with my mentor,” Bergin shared. “It helped me out a lot because I had a bunch of questions about being a paramedic, like how to get into it, and what it’s like day to day. When she answered those questions, it really helped me in a practical way.”

Bergin also emphasized how enjoyable the program is. “It’s a ton of fun,” she noted. “On the first day you don’t know what to expect, but an hour in and you’ve made all these new friends and are working on developing skills through fun activities. I love it a lot.”

Similarly, SM North senior Sebastian Menendez has found the highlight of the program to be the people.

“It might sound cliche, but the best part has been the people I’ve met,” shared Menendez. “You might think with a program involving all the Shawnee Mission schools there might be competition, but no. We’re all working together and have become good friends.”

The impact of Leadership Shawnee Mission extends far beyond the summer. Alumni of the program frequently cite it as a pivotal experience that helped to shape their school experience and personal growth. 

As Miguel Tapia Becerra, a recent SM North graduate and member of Leadership Shawnee Mission class of ‘23 noted, “Leadership Shawnee Mission opened a lot of doors for me.” 

In the end, Leadership Shawnee Mission is more than just a summer program: It is an experience that equips students with the skills, confidence, and connections needed to succeed as future leaders, and it’s about making friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. 

Students in front of a Leadership Shawnee Mission sign