Seniors in the University of Delaware’s organizational and community leadership program
spent spring semester this year working with students at Newark Charter
Junior/Senior High School to help them develop their own leadership
UD students in the senior capstone course, LEAD 490, took on the
challenge of proving not only what they know, but also that they know
what to do. During the semester, the class coached leadership skills to
10th-graders enrolled in the charter school’s Global Studies Leadership
Academy and introduced the challenges and fun of leadership to sixth-,
seventh- and eighth-graders.
The project was developed through a partnership between Karen Stein,
associate professor and program director of UD’s organizational and
community leadership (OCL) major, and Lisa Westerfield, Newark Charter’s
global contexts for leadership pathway teacher and curriculum
Westerfield opened her leadership classroom once a week to the OCL
seniors, who had the triple challenge of designing the coaching
experience, supplementing but not duplicating Westerfield’s leadership
curriculum and learning how to relate “college-level” leadership
knowledge to 10th-graders.
In addition to acting as leadership coaches, the OCL students were
challenged to productively engage the 10th-graders as equal partners in
the collaborative process of designing and implementing a leadership
event for all of the school’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
Adding to the challenge was that attending the event, scheduled for a Saturday morning in May, would be entirely voluntary.
“Leadership is about inspiring a common vision, but you can’t stop
there,” Stein explained to her students. “It’s one thing to have people
say they support something; it’s quite another leadership challenge, and
it takes hard work, to inspire people to actually participate and
personally engage in that vision.”
The result was LEADAPALOOZA 3.0 with the theme of “Intergalactic
Leadership.” OCL students are encouraged, throughout their curriculum,
to be innovative and creative, Stein said, and those skills were put to
use as they invented activities such as Space Storm, Toxic Slime Escape,
Crash Landing and Intergalactic Dance to teach the leadership concepts
of collaboration, divergent thinking, innovation and decision-making.
Participants described the game-filled LEADAPALOOZA as a resounding
success. For OCL senior Morgan Gott, “It was awesome to hear that some
of the students would come back next year.”
Noting the high energy throughout the day, Sarah Kate
Davidson-Catalano, also an OCL senior, said the event “was a chance not
only to prove to myself that I can apply my studies, but an opportunity
to excite young students about the importance of leadership.”
The semester-long experience was a success for the 10th-graders as well, Westerfield said.
“The chance for [Newark Charter High School] students to
participate, help to design and implement a large endeavor such as a
leadership conference has enabled them to move far beyond most students’
experiences in other schools,” she said.
The 10th-graders themselves said they recognized the value of the experience to their own growth as leaders.
“Working with the college students and hearing their thoughts and ideas allowed me to be more open-minded,” Josh Nicholson said.
His fellow student Maggie Blake said LEADAPALOOZA taught her “how to
stand up and take action, even when in difficult situations I hadn’t