Out of the Mouths of High Schoolers

Author: Dustin Odham
March 21, 2022

The Power of Belonging

Read this exclusive conversation with Mary Katherine Archer, Jorge Sanchez, and Jenaya Wilder. Learn more during the podcast interview on Change Starts Here. WATCH HERE


Dustin Odham:

One question I think about as a former high school teacher myself—what is the importance of the school’s job in helping prepare you for the future? Meaning specifically in this case, leadership skills. How important is it for your high school to help develop your leadership skills?


I think with leadership, people think we should think of someone holding a position in leadership. That’s probably the most broad knowledge we think about leadership. And I think that it’s the school’s job to break that down for us. You know, leadership is inspiring others. Leadership is standing up for your peers, even if you don’t really know that person. Leadership is taking on responsibility and being honest and delivering things in on time when you say you will, holding yourself to your own word. Leadership is so many moving parts, so many moving things, and I think those get lost and maybe even get covered up by this myth of what leadership really is. So, I think we want to take a page from Myth Busters, maybe, and just kind of, you know, bust the myth that leadership is just a role you hold or a position. Leadership is something you take on. I think true leadership is a choice; it’s not a position or a role that you’re given.


The point Jenaya took by starting with “leadership isn’t a position, it’s something that you do,” I think that’s really important. I think every school should start there. I think that maybe more so than positioning or responsibilities pertaining to other people, I think that schools would do well to start with leadership of self. Staring with what we had mentioned before, like time management, planning, truthfulness. The simple things that you think people would know, but you can’t assume that every person is taught. You can’t assume that every person has that foundation. And I think that in high school, as preparation to go out into, as they say, “the real world,” our schools should definitely take that on as something that is just as important as our core curriculum.

Jorge Sanchez:

If we are not doing it [in] the schools, where are we doing it? I want to say that we are doing it at home, but do we really have the connections at home, in our households to actually develop our students’ leadership? I’m very passionate about this. I am State President for CTSO [Career and Technical Student Organization] FCCLA [Family, Career and Community Leaders of America], and I am always encouraging school administrators to get CTSOs inside of their schools: DECA [Distributive Education Clubs of America], FCCLA, FBLA [Future Business Leaders of America], and FFA [Future Farmers of America]. Get something that your students can one, join for school pride and that, but two, that they get the opportunity to compete in the programs, participate in the programs. To feel supported in what they want to do and in what they’re passionate about but also develop their leadership skills and their communications skills. That they gain those connections that they need for the next steps of life.

I’m only here doing this with FranklinCovey because of FCCLA. I was recommended by the National Staff for the Realiteen Talks podcast. If it wasn’t for organizations like DECA and FCCLA, and even FranklinCovey, that give me these leadership opportunities, I’d be stuck at my school just doing the little things that aren’t preparing me as well as a bigger club or organization could.

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