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Webb students attend leadership conference

“Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach.”

This quote by Rosabeth M. Kanter, best-selling author, acclaimed business strategist/consultant and professor at Harvard Business School, is the idea behind a unique leadership development program that Webb School of Knoxville freshmen Robby Ritchie and Alex Thomas attended Thurs-day, Feb. 14, through Sunday, Feb. 18, in Nashville.

Themed Courageous Leader-ship, the National Young Lead-ers State Conference, held in 32 cities across the country and sponsored by the Congres-sional Youth Leader-ship Council, helps high ach-ieving eighth- and ninth-grade scholars take an introspective and personalized assessment of their leadership skills and abilities. The four-day program focuses on the eight core leadership traits — communication, conflict resolution, decision-making, goal-setting, group dynamics, leadership techniques, project management and self-awareness — and how to foster those within each individual student.

More than 150 students from across Tennessee and parts of Kentucky attended the Nash-ville conference, which featured both lecture-type and numerous hands-on group activities as well as leadership workshops.

One such workshop enabled participants to examine their own leadership styles through group interaction and discussion. Both Alex and Robby said they found this exercise especially beneficial as they learned whether they were more “team-oriented” leaders — listening to everybody in the group and caring about each person’s opinion; or more task-oriented — focusing on getting the job done no matter what the others in the group have to say.

“I spoke the most in my group,” Alex said. “But it was interesting to me that even though I spoke the most, I wasn’t the task-oriented leader. My role in the group was team-oriented. I was trying to make sure everybody got a say; that everybody got to put in his/her own opinion — a mediator almost.”

“I found out I’m a little too task-centered,” Robby said with a chuckle, adding that the exercise made him think more about listening and making sure everyone gets the opportunity to have his or her say.

Students who demonstrate maturity, academic excellence and leadership potential are selected to participate in the NYLSC, and are nominated by their teachers and mentors within their communities.

Alex and Robby were among the students nominated by Webb eighth-grade science teacher Nancy Latsha.

“The kids I nominated constantly showed excellent leadership skills throughout the year,” she said, adding that the students earned top grades and were always willing and able to help other students.

“They maintained a positive attitude through thick and thin, never shied away from a challenge, and always, always, always exhibited a thirst for knowledge.

“They represent the best of Webb and will one day be great leaders in our community,” she added.


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