GF program trains Tigers to become community leaders

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Melinda Webb of Anstaff Bank (seated) meets with Green Forest High School students (from left) Hannah King, Madison Smalley, Abby Smith, Kaitin Fryar and Lauryn Veach as part of the Green Forest High School Leadership Seminar. Webb and other community leaders taught the students how to conduct themselves during interviews.
Submitted photo

One of the best ways to inspire the next generation of community leaders is by having them learn from current community leaders.

That was the goal of Green Forest High School administrators when developing the pilot year of the Green Forest High School Leadership Seminar. Principal Terry Darnell said the idea has been in the works for quite some time.

“I had kicked this idea around. [Counselor] Jonie Standlee and I had talked about it, and Coach Bobby Bishop and I had talked about something similar,” Darnell said. “We saw a need to develop some leaders in our school and have our kids step to the forefront to present a positive outlook not only in our school but also in the community.”

Darnell said he, Standlee and Bishop developed the leadership seminar and made an application for interested students to complete. A committee of about eight teachers reviewed the applications and selected the top 30 students, Darnell said.

The four main purposes of the program, he said, are to introduce dynamic leadership qualities, teach skills and techniques of leadership, develop leadership traits and incorporate positive leadership throughout the Green Forest High School community.

“We tried to develop what we want our kids to know and how we want them to behave and present themselves as they go out and about,” Darnell said. “It’s a work in progress.”

The leadership seminar kicked off with a visit from Fred Scarborough, chief development officer for Arkansas Children’s Hospital and a 1982 Green Forest graduate.

“Fred does the fundraising for Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He has accounted for $400 million in funds raised,” Darnell said. “He was excited about an opportunity to come back and visit with our students.”

Darnell said the leadership seminar later had a second session with community volunteers Linda Moore, Melinda Webb, Allen Rogers and Janell Robertson.

“They broke the students into groups and visited with them on a personal level about soft skills,” Darnell said, “such as how to conduct themselves in an interview.”

He said the school hopes to have six to eight more sessions this spring. In the fall, he said, the school is in talks of creating a leadership class for all incoming freshmen in order to expose them to some of the goals and objectives of the program early on in their high school career.

Standlee said the pilot program targeted freshmen, sophomores and juniors this year through competitive applications.

“The main thing we looked for was that they wanted to make a difference and had some opportunity for growth,” she said. “If they presented themselves to be community-minded, that seemed to resonate with the selection committee.”

Juniors Cheyenne Zimmerman, Creel Roberts and Maressa Hernandez and sophomore Nick Cary were among the students who are participating in the leadership seminar this year.

Hernandez and Cary said that they applied for the program because they believed it would be useful for scholarships, college applications and job interviews in the future.

“I thought this was something I could use not just now but also in the future,” Hernandez said. “When I get older, I want to be in the medical field, so I know that leadership will be key in communicating with people and taking on that role.”

“I want to better my leadership skills and maybe run a business some day,” Cary said. “If I do work for a company, I think this program will help be be a team player and work well with others.”

Roberts said it is helpful to hear the stories of community leaders, such as Scarborough, and learn from them and what they’ve done in their lives.

“It helps with teamwork abilities and public speaking, which is very important if you have any sort of public job where you talk to people,” he said. “Plus, you get out of class, and it’s really fun to hear from the visiting speakers.”

Zimmerman said she already had an opportunity to put some of the skills she learned from the visiting speakers to use.

“We had a few bankers and financial people come in last Thursday, and the woman I worked with taught us different interview techniques, such as the important of good posture,” she said. “Yesterday, I had a surprise interview for Girls’ State, and I was trying to go over in my head the different things we went over. I found out later that I was accepted.”

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: