Cultivating Leadership Over Summer Break

Our peers, the cashier at the supermarket, aunts, grandfathers, and anyone who may have a misconceived perception on why individuals choose to dive into the career path of teaching have a generalized idea that teachers have summers off along with their students. This over-used excuse to those who are blind to why we do what we do is most definitely not the case whatsoever. Teachers do have extra time to catch up on sleep over the summer – from spending multiple hours planning activities, lesson plans, volunteering at school events, and investing in students’ work – I will say that much, but many educators who are passionate about their line of work spend a good chunk of their summer searching for self-development and ways to further educate themselves in order to improve and provide the very best for their classroom next fall.

In working towards my education career going into year three at Oakland University, I have already had the wonderful opportunity to experience and work with multiple educators who exemplify this beautiful quality of passion for what they do that I believe teachers do not get enough credit for. The Michigan Association of Student Councils and Honor Societies, MASC/MAHS, is a state leadership organization that encourages middle and high school students to dwell in their personal leadership potential. Through conferences, events, and materials provided by the organization, students can put their leadership into action in order to not only make a positive impact in their own life journey, but also to those they encounter in their community along the way. The mission of this organization encompasses why I so badly want to be an educator and work with upcoming generations, and the multiple volunteers and teachers I work with from across the state that come together to express this message are beyond inspiring with their same desire.

One major affair that the org puts on every year is a week-long high school leadership camp at the end of July. This was my third summer with MASC/MAHS’s College Volunteer Facilitator Corps (CVFC). CVFC is a collegiate society of trained facilitators. We lead and develop educational leadership curriculum for events like this camp. At these events we are dedicated to providing a compassionate and challenging leadership experience for every middle and high school student in Michigan. The CVFC members that are counselors at camp get paired with senior counselors (volunteers over the age of 21) who have had some type of previous experience working with students, most are current educators, counselors, and principals. Along with this pair comes the best part – your own group of 20-25 high school student leaders intermixed from schools across the state.

Throughout the week it is always amazing to witness these educators, principals, and counselors facilitate group discussion and be genuinely invested in the students’ experience.  Each activity that a group goes through has a debrief discussion afterwards, where the junior counselor and senior counselor work as a team to guide the students to connect why they just did a gallery walk, or what it meant when they ran into difficulties going through an obstacle course. It gives me that heartwarming assurance that I am where I’m supposed to be, and helping facilitate activities, group discussion, and one-on-one conversation already gives me that sense of experience in being with a class of students.

MASC/MAHS continuously provides me with the support and encouragement from these astounding teachers. In completing my third year of camp this past July, it really opens my eyes in seeing that even though they have families, vacation time, and have the option of opting out into the “summers off,” these educators who love what they do. They are so incredibly passionate about students, leadership, and guiding the upcoming generations that having a “school year” is not enough for these hardworking individuals. The summers that we have off are well deserved but definitely not misused by educators who view teaching as a lifestyle.

Meg Luther is a junior at Oakland University and a member of the Graider Advisory Board.