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Former attendees of past Little Leaders gave back as part of the day. (Photo courtesy TVES )
Cups Stacking workshop. (Photo courtesy TVES )
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On Tuesday Oct. 8, North Branford and the Connecticut Association of Schools hosted another "Little Leaders Conference".
Students from North Branford, Chester, and Waterford came together to share in the belief that even our youngest students (K-5) are capable of leadership and have incredible potential to transform their schools and communities. Over 100 students attended mini-workshops throughout the morning led by teachers and administrators from North Branford and Waterford.
Workshops included "Elementary/High School Mentorship Programs," "Problem Solving," "Leaders versus Bosses." "Empathy:More than just a Poster," "Leadership for Global Goals and Sustainability," "Collaborative Cup Stacking Challenge," "Elementary Community Service Projects" and "My Leadership Superpower." Students worked collaboratively with their peers from neighboring communities to discuss leadership, communication, and problem solving in ways that can be brought back to their own schools and communities.
The day kicked off with words of welcome, whole group ice breakers, and inspiration from the students of the North Branford High School (NBHS) Dream Team, who mentor and work K-5 students in North Branford around academic and social skills development.
In addition, NBHS student and Dream Team Leader Brtiny Gildersleeve led attendees in a spirited rendition of "Try Anything" along with the NBHS band. Staff and students sang and danced to the song, and its words of taking risks and jumping in to support and lead others served as a nice framework for the rest of the day.
Event organizers Totoket Valley Elementary School Principal, Carter Welch and CAS Student Activities Directors John Sieller and Cherese Miller stated "Leadership and Positive School Climate are the foundations of successful schools, and that we as adults believe in you, your voice, and your leadership power to make real differences in your schools".
Welch further encouraged students to share their ideas, to get involved, and to "...be a leader for change and the good you want to see in your school".
After attending the workshops throughout the morning led by staff and students, all students again came together in a closing ceremony to reflect on the workshops, how to bring new learning to their schools, and how to remain inspired around the idea of leadership. NBHS Dream Team students also presented participating schools with their Little Leaders hand print banners, representing the day and that little hands, voices, and ideas can contribute very positively to schools and communities.
As students boarded their buses to return to their schools they were filled with enthusiasm and gratitude about the event and the opportunity to work with so many different peers around leadership.
"The event was a wonderful success and represented how collaborative leadership experiences can inspire all of us to make a difference," said Sieller.
"I am so proud of our youngest learners and I believe so strongly in their ideas and their voices, and I know their learning today will have an impact on their peers, their schools, and their communities," said Welch. "Along with CAS, it is our hope to expand this program in the future so that there are a series of 'Little Leaders' workshops around the state to inspire and empower our youngest leaders. I know from my experience how truly powerful it is when someone believes in you, and sometimes just that belief that we as adults have in children can inspire a path to greatness."
The way that adults, high school students, and elementary students worked together across communities during this event reminds us all how leadership, mentorship, and inspiration can bring passion to our schools. The day was truly was a great day that reminds us all of what we should be focused on in education and media rather than many of the challenges and barriers we face daily.
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