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“Lead With Your Strengths” Program: Mobilizing Students As Leaders At Andover High School

In the Andover High School library today the first meeting of students dedicated to developing their leadership skills met to
begin the vision of Candace Hall the Director Of Human Resources for the Town of Andover. Candace has for a long time wanted to see a dialogue opened between students and community about the issues related to race,ethnicity,diversity and multiculturalism. Candace expressed that the “Lead With Your Strengths “ program has been a long term goal of hers “to see the goal of Martin Luther King fulfilled”.

Students met from 8 am till 11:30 on their half day of school to participate in the program implemented by Dr. Luz Valverde Assistant Principal at the high school, Aixa de Kelley Director Of Guidance and  Dr.Jorge Allen Program Advisor for the World Languages Department. Assiting Dr. Allen and Dr. Valverde was Roberta Hantgan a Fellow from Merrimack College and Digtial Learning Specialist Daniel Downs, Ed.D.

The program included having students complete web based “Surveys Of Character” which helped them self assess their leadership skills,elements of character and reflect on how they can become leaders in their school and beyond. Students engaged in meaningful discussions on expressing their strengths and shared visions for how this program could evolve. All students shared their self-knowledge on a blog dedicated to the cultivation of their ideas and personal perspectives related to their skills and experiences with leadership. 
The blog was implemented to digitally capture student reflections and carry the experiences from this meeting to future participation.

The students had a keynote address from community leader  Pavel Payano who spoke to the students about the importance of setting goals and how to create change in your community by taking a leadership role. Mr.Payano described his experiences working with Student Activities at the University Of Massachusetts in Amherst. Mr. Payano described his experiences using the skills working in his college environment to creating change in his hometown community.

This program has developed out of a vision as part of the “One Andover” project and hopes to create new opportunities for students to develop themselves and become mentors in school and the greater community. The program will also bring awareness to the diversity of culture within the community and present opportunities for student ambassadors to connect with town leadership.

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