Emboldened by the mission of empowering students to develop the excellence within, Mesquite ISD has developed a first-of-its-kind emerging leadership development program for high school students called LET, which is short for Leadership and Empowerment Team Initiative. “This three- to four-year program will enable our rising stars to learn about wide-ranging, diverse leadership perspectives like never before,” said LET Director Dr. LaDonna Gulley. The program will also enable students to have access to local leaders, programs and mentorship in ways that have not yet been seen in Mesquite, Texas.
The LET Initiative is born out of a desire to create a dynamic, interactive space that equips students with the tools and training to envision themselves leading and succeeding beyond the classroom. At its core, the progressively developed Emerging Leaders program is a study in active empathy. “You can’t lead others if you can’t step into someone else’s shoes, and you can’t lead if you can’t listen with empathy to their stories.” notes Dr. Gulley.
Intentionally designed to teach critical thinking skills, hone innate leadership ability and foster community connections, the LET Initiative forges a pathway forward for these rising scholars. Currently offered as an after school only program for more than 300 students, the Emerging Leaders framework will be offered next year at all 6 high schools and upon graduation, participating students will be recognized and corded.
During the recent fall social at the Mesquite ISD Professional Development Center, many of the participating students attended an inspirational leadership rally featuring a panel of local leaders that are walking the road less traveled. Students asked questions about the responsibilities of leadership, expressed curiosity about what defines a leader and how to make their own mark. They also discussed the unique stories of the panelists and shared in a meal sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas.
Dr. Gulley notes “There is a leader in every one of us,” and these inspiring students are already well on their way. To learn more about Mesquite ISD’s LET Initiative, visit here.
All images courtesy of Mesquite ISD.