A video of a lone man doing his best interpretation of modern dance on the sidelines of an outdoor sporting event might seem out of place for a presentation about leadership. It seems even less likely that the video’s presenters were CSIU Executive Director Kevin Singer and Chief Academic Officer John Kurelja, and that they were presenting to the 2017 Class of Leadership Susquehanna Valley.
Dr. Kurelja pointed out though, that the video held a hidden gem about leadership: when joined by just one other fellow spectator in his dance, the goofy dancer gained a valuable asset to his mission, and the 100-person flash mob that soon followed became his “movement.” While the initiator founded the mob, the first spectator’s critical buy-in drove its success. Thanks to this buy-in, these two became the leaders of a sidelines-engaging experience that transformed the event. “So too,” said Dr. Kurelja, “is the power of a first follower in any movement.”
Following an in-depth look at the service mission of the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, three brave members of the class presented their leadership credos – the first in a year-long series of presentations. Citing the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Greenleaf, they also shared their own perspectives, including the idea that leaders “aren’t necessarily fearless; they just have more passion than fear.”
Addressing this and other key points was Caz Russell, a leadership coach and John Maxwell Instructor. He covered such topics as trust, timing, intentionality, awareness, and influence in leadership. He emphasized that leaders add value to themselves by seeing themselves as valuable, and challenged them to “turn pain into gain.” Mr. Russell will build upon these leadership topics through four more lessons, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Albright Footcare Center.
Continuing the “education” theme of the day, the class next heard from Jill Shupp, Director of Special Education at Danville Area School District. Mrs. Shupp shared student-made treats from Danville’s transitions program and presented how the school district offered job training and soft skills for students with special needs – giving them opportunities to be leaders in their own right.
Traveling from the CSIU to SUN Area Technical Institute, the class dined on meals prepared by SUN Tech’s culinary students, and took student-led tours of the regional school. Participants learned that in their own backyard, a vibrant career and technology center with state-of-the-art equipment prepares youth and adults with critical job training and certifications. Lewisburg Area School District Superintendent Dr. Mark DiRocco and Board President Kathy Swope challenged participants to serve their communities by charting a course for education in the Valley, and the class capped the day with a presentation about the evolution of higher education in the Valley, presented by Jeannine Hanes of Penn State World Campus. By hands-on application and the identification of local educational resources, the LSV Education Day challenged participants to consider the impact of education on the Valley. Thanks to all who made it possible!