Diversity, Equity & Inclusion|Leadership

Student Re-imaginaction

a group of friends sitting at a table

Building on the previous blog on reimagining, I find myself looking everywhere for hints of positive shift. Changing the narrative. Creating space for singular transformation that has implications for self and other awareness, for changing the narrative from limitations to possibilities. And in that ever-evolving landscape, what is the role of leadership?  

Christie Gribble, Executive Director of the Fannin County Development Authority in north Georgia, saw an opportunity to expand the lens and experience of high school students in the county. She borrowed elements of Leadership Fannin curriculum and applied them to high school students eager to step into possibilities. In a rural community where, confederate flags still punctuate the landscape and most students have limited career or job options dictated by a roller coaster tourist economy, Christie and a long-time educator, equally passionate about student potential, created opportunities for the students to have broader exposure to each other and to their community at large. They learned where to register to vote, why voting is important, how local and state government function, and visited the state legislature. They met with business women and men to hear their stories of starting or running businesses and making challenging career decisions along the way.

At the end of the program, one young woman, whose family had no entrepreneurs in their background, started a furniture restoration business. And all 10 who participated in the pilot program tuned into a stronger sense of self and choices ahead of them. 

What’s really intriguing is that throughout the experience the students grappled with the concept of leadership – what it is and how it applies to them. 

Armandee Drew is hearing the same question posed by high school students across the globe. Years ago, she facilitated the certification of our Clearwater team in the global program Inter-cultural Intelligence, and we have stayed in touch ever since. Armandee and her husband Chris created a robust yearlong student program for schools – 5 Stone Leadership – anchored in self-awareness, other awareness, relationship, and choice. And they recently launched a new one-on-one program for students.  https://www.lifelaunchmasterclasses.com/

Students tell her they look around and don’t see strong leadership role models they care to emulate, and, in fact, that they prefer to work in teams. They question the purpose or even the power of the concept to lead, relying more on community than singularity.

Why does this matter? 

Armandee, Chris, and Christie, in their own ways, are leading through facilitation and applied learning. Facilitating conversations and experiences that encourage growth mindsets and the opportunity to explore self-identity and impact. They role model the behaviors of caring enough about a community (students) to create space for individual and collective transformation. They have designed the interactions and opportunities to reveal the creative spirit in each student and the power in peer community. 

It matters because the students are saying that command and control, hierarchical structure doesn’t work for them. It matters because we all are grappling with what it means to create environments where possibility reigns and imagination in action brings vision to life.  What can we learn from the students?

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a widely respected author, gaining a large following through publication of Between the World and Me and through his journalism at The Atlantic, primarily covering African Americans and white supremacy within the context of politics, social and cultural issues. Ezra Klein recently interviewed Ta-Nehisi Coates after the announcement that he would be teaching at Howard University in the Fall, curious about the switch in audiences – from large populations via broad based media to a single classroom.

Ta-Nehisi shared that he would continue to advocate for policies that impact the social and political system as a whole, “but it really, really occurred to me that there’s a generation that is being formed right now that’s deciding what they will allow to be possible. What they will be capable of imagining. And the root of that … is the stories we tell. And I just wanted to be a part of that fight.” Listen to the podcast at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-ezra-klein-show/id1548604447?i=1000530493907


What are you re-imagining? And what are you doing about it?