Renton, Wash., population almost 100,000, is home to Liberty High School, which is 1,175 miles away from Chapman University. Nevertheless, this high school is home to one of the latest educational projects by Mark Maier, Ph.D., director of Chapman’s Leadership Studies Program. Maier plus a team of 12 Chapman graduate students have created the high school’s new “Introduction to Leadership,” course, to be launched this coming school year.
It’s an educational outreach-like project developed by Maier and the students, facilitated by go-between Chapman graduate student Kelly Nunn and will be taught by Liberty teacher Michelle Munson starting in the fall.
The idea to set up the high school curriculum didn’t occur in a vacuum — it originated with Liberty parent Madonna Messina when she was helping her eldest daughter shop for college. One of the campus tours Messina took was at Chapman.
Although her daughter didn’t end up at Chapman for her college education, something stuck with Messina: The focus on Leadership as a part of an education. Messina was so struck by the way Chapman taught leadership that she sought to bring a piece of it to Renton.
Acting as the catalyst, Messina reached out and asked if the Chapman model for teaching leadership could be adapted for a younger educational audience — and if it could be, would students even participate?
“The (Liberty) kids were unbelievably courageous and brilliant,” – Kelly Nunn, Chapman graduate student
As it turns out, with some tweaks to the coursework, yes it can. And yes, the students will come. So far, about 60 students have shown interest in the course — enough to fill two semesters of the class.
Nunn was impressed by the students and their participation in development process.
Nunn said, “Truly I have not heard, nor seen such brilliant young people. They have hearts for leading, hearts for giving, hearts for creating space for others to grow and a hunger for knowledge.”
After months of working on the class curriculum, the initial course has been approved for two semesters at Liberty. Classwork concepts revolve around methods of leadership through inspiring shared vision; enabling others to act; challenging the process; encouraging the heart and modeling the way.
Maier hopes that if the coursework from Liberty proves successful, it can become a tool for local school districts.
(Photo at top: From Left: Chapman graduate student Kelly Nunn, teacher Michelle Munson and parent Madonna Messina collaborated to bring leadership education to Liberty High School.)