What It Takes To Be A Leader – English Essay
In the late nineties, I was the vice president of Afternoon Helpers, a district program in Switzerland, whose purpose was to improve the educational performance of students in the primary and secondary school
districts. My high school philosophy teacher, the president and founder of the program, had asked me to join the group since she was aware of my successful participation in other volunteer activities. After one year, she appointed me vice president, a position that I viewed as a challenge.
I immediately loved the experience, once I had defined the problem: the volunteers were frequently doing homework, instead of spending time getting the children to accomplish their tasks. The method solved only an immediate problem; it did not promote productive work habits that would last a lifetime. Working with teachers and students from different disciplines, I investigated the problems of educational design and soon realized that my own constructive concepts would greatly benefit the program. I began confidently expressing my ideas in the debriefing meetings.
“We cannot change what we do until we change how we think, and we cannot change how we think until we change who we are.” I felt compelled to state this idea during one meeting. Perhaps the cold, rainy atmosphere outside affected the acceptance level of attendees inside, because the deafening silence that followed indicated their disapproval of my attitude and my words. I was convinced that there was an impending need for the program to be updated, but I was not factoring in my age in relation to the other members. Still, I persisted.
I continued to explore the educational process. “Reframing! That is the point.” I then encouraged the group to improve continuously, to change our paradigm, and to think out-of-the-box. My challenging dream was to analyze what we were doing for the students and to respond more creatively to the overwhelming problem, the students’ lack of interest in academic achievement. We should teach students to improve their vocabulary by using context to understand new words, instead of memorizing lists; we could match them with pen pals who shared particular interests, thereby successfully improving their writing skills; and we could correlate scientific theories with real innovations, such as CD, to show them the important role that science plays in their lives. Constructive action would promote classroom interest.
As I continued speaking, the mood of my audience changed; tension dissipated as they heard my sincere pleas for constructive changes that would make a difference in local educational opportunities. I observed shared glances that were thoughtful, touching, and even approving. My teacher, more than anyone, nodded her agreement. When it was her turn to speak, she used the wording that we had prepared together. I took a deep breath, feeling relaxed and completely fulfilled. Only then did I understand why I had been appointed vice president at such a young age; my teacher was convinced that I had the leadership potential to effect change and reframe the general habits of the volunteer staff