Sunday, 11 December 2016

A new leadership program for students launched

A new leadership program for students launched
By Neil Armstrong

Twenty-seven students were recently introduced publicly as the first cohort of the new Lifelong Leadership Institute (LLI) signature leadership-development program, Leadership by Design (LBD).

The institute was launched at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) Auditorium, University of Toronto, on November 19.

The purpose of the LLI is to inspire leadership and develop leaders in the GTA’s Black and Caribbean communities.

Its signature program, Leadership by Design (LBD), is a multi-year investment in optimizing the students’ scholastic achievements, amplifying their leadership capacity and facilitating their career ambitions.

The LBD program will provide at least seven years of developmental support for student participants spanning the high school and university/college years.

Students are admitted in their Grade 10 year and are provided leadership development and career development throughout Grades 10, 11 and 12.

“These students aspire to post-secondary studies, and we will continue our support of their development throughout their post-secondary education up to, and including, graduate studies,” says Trevor Massey, Chair of LLI.

Dr. Avis Glaze, principal of Edu-quest International Inc., a former Ontario Education Minister and a board member of LLI, was the keynote speaker and highlighted some of the outcomes of the Royal Commission on Learning.

“African Canadian parents came out and they said they wanted better guidance and counseling, more mentorship, they wanted information about accessing postsecondary education, and they wanted more principals and teachers to be trained so that they would no be stereotyped and end racism.”

She told the students that their parents and community members realized that they had to fight for their future.

Glaze encouraged the students to be prepared for the future in aspects such as ethical decision-making and to develop character attributes such as respect, responsibility, honesty, integrity, fairness, perseverance, courage and optimism.

“Character is destiny,” said the educator.

“I want you to remember that as you move into university and into the workplace, and into the boardrooms, and up the ladder of success, never forget what it means to be an ethical human being, what it means to care deeply about others and what it means not to forget your past.”

Among the 21st century skills she listed are: critical thinking and analytical thinking, teamwork, partnerships and collaboration, problem solving, problem-based learning, project-based learning, being creative, being innovative, being entrepreneurial.

She referenced different types of entrepreneurs such as those who work in policy and social.

“For many of you, you will have to create your own jobs. You don’t have to go knocking on the doors of established organizations to find work if you’re going to be creative and entrepreneurial, if people are going to support you in that creativity.”

She noted that if “we want entrepreneurs in our society we have to nurture creativity in our schools today.”

“People skills are the wave of the future,” Glaze said, noting that research on emotional intelligence shows that emotional quotient (EQ) is more important than IQ.

She also cited constructive confrontation, which is the ability to be assertive rather than being aggressive, and resiliency.

The students were also encouraged to have an insatiable appetite for learning, a strong motivation to achieve, a strong service orientation, that is, “the notion that you’re going to lift as you climb.”

“How can we in communities, if we’re successful, not reach back and give a hand to others so that they too could be successful?”

Glaze was on the royal commission that recommended that students do 40 hours of community service before they get their high school diploma.

“I encourage you, for all of us, develop what I call that human rights orientation to life,” she said.

The educator said all human beings are created equal and therefore “we must make sure that no human being should be discriminated against.”

Dr. Glaze said that towards the end of her career she took on the issue of gay rights.
“I was tired of seeing students when I was a guidance counselor attempting suicide because they were gay. And so many people don’t want to touch that issue because, oh, you don’t deal with that. If you say you believe in human rights, you cannot be selective about the human beings for whom you will advocate – it’s all or none. It’s not for us to judge them.”

She told the students that advocacy for others is a key quality of leaders.

Speaking on behalf of the students were Adam Markle and Anna Thompson.

“Leadership is the ability to influence and to organize people to achieve a goal. To be a leader is to make the hard decisions and to bear the outcome, whether positive or negative,” said Markle.

He said President Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Senator Anne Cools, who he met earlier this year, and his mother, have a strong influence in his life.

“In my opinion, parents can be one of the most powerful influences in a child’s life. It’s because of my mother that I aspire to be a better person.”

Thompson said a good leader is someone who can take charge, inspire confidence in others and motivate those same people to take action.

“Leadership is in all aspects of life, academics, sports, politics or even in our relationship with our peers. Leaders are such key and vital parts of our life. For some, leadership comes naturally but leadership may also be acquired and improved by studying the qualities of great leaders, past and present, observing and imitating those who are successful.

Nadine Spencer, a director of LLI, said four years while working on the commemoration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence, the organizers talked about a legacy to support the initiatives.

“Something that would live on after the celebration had ended. Trevor Massey talked about a legacy for inspiring leaders – what would be the Lifelong Leadership Institute.”

She said the students will not be alone on their journey as the institute is providing a “circle of care” to make sure they have as much support as possible.

The Lifelong Leadership Institute is an educational organization that exists to inspire leadership, develop leaders, and dedicate its resources to advancing leadership competence and personal success among Canadian youth of Jamaican, Caribbean and Black heritage.
Dr. Avis Glaze, principal, Edu-quest International Inc. and former Ontario Education Commissioner, left, and Aliecia Taylor, consul of the Consulate General of Jamaica in Toronto at the launch of the Lifelong Leadership Institute at OISE, University of Toronto.

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