This spring, a group of more than 40 MME students gathered together for a day-long leadership training retreat. Students listened to special guest speakers, participated in fun activities and collaborated to discuss their thoughts and identities as young leaders.
The retreat had a highly positive atmosphere that encouraged students to brainstorm ways they could make their school a great place for everyone. One exercise prompted them to share words they thought described MME’s school values as well as the environment they hoped to foster with their leadership. Among others, many students chose respect, integrity and safety as words they associated with MME values.
But the retreat was not only focused on team-building and group activities. Leaders asked students to list some of their personal strengths and points of pride to help them gain confidence in their own individual ability to lead. This was a unique opportunity for students to recognize their impressive talents, which centered around sports, academics, second languages and more.
“Many kids don’t know how to be leaders, they just know they have the desire to lead. This training helps them learn what it means to be a leader and shows them how they can take action. It helps them develop a vision for the future—their own personal future as well as the future of MME,” said Ginna Schultz, a social studies teacher and student government advisor.
MME students themselves found that the retreat was both a great learning experience and an enjoyable one.
When asked which aspect of the day had been his favorite, eighth grader Ray Taha said that he loved being able to learn about a passion of his—leadership—right alongside his friends. “Leadership is one of my biggest strengths. I love working on it every day, so I’m excited to do that with my friends. It’s an opportunity I don’t get too often,” he said.
Other students considered the guest speakers to be the highlight of the retreat. Sixth grader Bennett Turpin said, “I guess I just liked learning about other people’s stories and how they got through all their struggles, and how they were motivated. It’s inspiring.”
The students also shared what being a leader means to them. Among the thoughts that were shared were “being a guide to people,” “having people look up to you” and “listening to others.”
For many students, the retreat was a highlight of the spring and, for attending eighth graders, a great way to end their middle school careers as they move up to Minnetonka High School next fall. Participants learned a lot about what it means to be a leader now and in the next stages of their lives.