By Justin Seward
There were 135 junior high students from Irvine and Schuler Schools who participated in a student development day of learning on March 11.
The theme of the day was “Communication in Leadership; Be the Author of your own Story,” and students got to listen to guest speakers, magician Trevor Moore, local graffiti artist Jeff Goring (aka SONZ1) and Medicine Hat Tigers’ head coach Willie Desjardins on what they look for in leadership qualities and how they got to where they are today.
“We have professional development days for teachers, we’ve even hosted a couple here this year and we decided we learned so much at the ones we’ve hosted this year that why don’t we pass it on to the students, because they’re the ones that have to learn,” said Trent Rayner, Irvine School principal.
“We’re doing a student development day. It’s about leadership and communication and ‘Be the Author of your Own Story,’ and try to empower these students so they can leave here with some leadership qualities.”
Students learned through the speakers about resilience, courage, being able to stand up for others, being able to bring forth your view points and listening to others organizational skills.
Teachers prepared the students with discussions on leadership qualities and vocabulary that they did not know about and coming in with an open mindset on what they wanted to learn going in and coming out of the presentation.
“We’re going to be using the language arts classes to move forward and build what they learned in story writing,” said Rayner.
Moore said in his presentation “You need to be there as a leader. You need to be there as a listener, you need to embrace the silence, you need to fill that silence with asking questions and finding ways to connect with people.”
“Which leads to the last one, acting. It doesn’t matter how good you are connecting, engaging, listening. If you are not acting in a way that is synonymous with the same way you believe, will people trust you? Leaders gain trust by walking the walk and walking (to match) their talking. They make sure their message matches their actions. Leaders are always interested in how their actions look. In any given moment actions speak louder than words.”
Reflection becomes a key component in leadership qualities.
“Reflection leads us to think what’s going on in our world,” said Moore.
“Reflection creates stories and we become story tellers. Great leaders and great communicators are great story tellers. The key to the stories is they have to be true.”
Goring has been a graffiti artist for 22 years and has done various gigs in Medicine Hat’s downtown, Lululemon, Toronto FC Soccer Club.
“It doesn’t matter where you start with your story. What really matters is the journey and how you finish” said Goring.
“What’s really cool is for you guys, where you’re at now is you have such an opportunity to make the amazing impact with your lives doing what you love to do.”
For Goring that was not an easy path.
“I didn’t start off with a good graffiti. I started off really bad,” he said.
“The key thing for is having good influences, not caring what people think about me and putting in work. For you guys, you’ve got to realize that if someone is teasing you or you’ve got something you love to do and someone is bugging you, you can’t let what that person says affect your life.”
Desjardins spoke about leadership through how different players he coached lead by example on and off the ice.
“It’s exciting for me to see young people wanting to get better and wanting to lead,” said Desjardins.
“I didn’t start the (South Alberta Willie Desjardins) Hockey Academy for hockey. I started it more for leadership. To me the key is leadership. There (are)so many things that change and you have to have the confidence and leadership inside to change.”
Desjardins told the full gym that he was just like them growing up in Climax, Sask., and did not have anything to him “unique” or “unbelievable”.
He came from a family of mostly blacksmiths and when he went to university he did not know what he wanted to take.
“For one university I applied to be an engineer, another I applied to be an accountant and third I applied to be a teacher,” he said.
“So it wasn’t that I had this plan that this is exactly what I’m going to do. I did know I wanted to be a hockey player. To this day if I had to pick between playing or coaching, I’d take playing anyday. But sometimes you don’t get to do exactly what you choose. You have to find a way to make other things good. I’ve gotten to go to many great places and it was because of hockey.”
Desjardins says you have to be accountable because you are going to make mistakes.
“What do you do if you make mistakes? Do you blame somebody else? No.,” said Desjardins.
“Sometimes you’ve got to say ‘Hey I’ve made a mistake.’ I wasn’t good enough. I’ve got to be better.”
The event took place prior to the government announcing school cancellations.