Meet your deadlines and dress professionally, even if you work from home. Those are some of the takeaways from the latest in a series of meetings of the She Leads program at Cole Elementary School. The program is an extension of the Cole Professional Academy that helps girls apply leadership skills in school and beyond the classroom.
School counselor Hillary Lewandowski brings the group of fifth grade girls together during lunch and recess every other month. They focus on four pillars: leading with pride, kindness, respect and confidence. “Leading as a woman looks different, so we wanted to provide the girls an opportunity to meet some women who are leaders in their careers to see how they do it, as well as learn about different career options for them,” Lewandowski says.
Guest speaker Lindsey Peabody, a proposal development specialist with Stony Brook University, led the discussion on leading with respect. “We focused on how respect is a two-way street and how we need to give respect as well as earn respect,” says Peabody. “Being a lady that leads with respect is being courteous and keeping others in mind.”
Fifth grader Hensley Moseley says being respectful includes being a good listener: “Don’t talk when the teacher is talking, follow directions and be kind.”
Classmate Heidi Elam says being respectful means people shouldn’t jump to conclusions and make assumptions about another person’s behavior: “Be kind and thoughtful to others.”
Earlier in the semester, guest speaker, Casey Spencer, vice president of treasury management at State Bank, led a session on leading with confidence. “This session we tried to really focus on encouraging the ladies to take pride in everything they do. Whether it was showing sheep at the county fair or singing a song in the school play,” says Spencer. “During this open discussion we had one young lady finding it hard to think of something she was good at and that she took pride in. Her peers quickly chimed in and named several things they recognized as her strengths. We went from taking pride in ourselves to helping others realize their own strengths.”
The girls say they are enjoying the program. “It’s really fun,” says Heidi. “We learn ways to stand up for ourselves and how girls can do as much as boys.”
“It is really inspirational,” adds Hensley. “It is helping us prepare to be leaders.”