Leadership University Unites Districts, Drake University

Leadership Academy

Students from Callanan and Harding middle schools in Des Moines and Waukee and South middle schools in Waukee gather for a unique 7th grade Leadership Academy, co-sponsored by Drake University.

Waukee Community School District and Des Moines Public Schools joined together with Drake University’s Robert D. and Billie Ray Center for a first-of-its-kind 7th grade Leadership Academy.

The team of 42 students from Waukee Middle, South Middle and Des Moines’ Callanan and Harding middle schools were chosen mostly through teacher recommendations.

“They weren’t necessarily the loudest students,” Callanan principal Dawn Stahly said. “They’re mostly the quiet leaders who have the potential to influence others and lead in their schools and community.”

The academy’s first meeting in November at Waukee focused on leading in the community. This month saw the students return with ideas for improvement in their own schools, following meetings with students and administrators at their home schools. The idea was to collaborate with their new leadership academy friends and come up with a plan to solve their home school’s challenges – from using social media appropriately to disruptive students.

“We’re empowering kids to think about their own problems, and how they can solve them and be advocates for themselves and others,” said Stahly.

Thirteen-year-old Jordan Bohn-Wright, of Callanan Middle School, said the biggest challenge at her school is too much chaos in the hallway ending in horseplay.

“Occasionally, students just trying to get to their classes get pushed around,” she said. “We’re considering limiting the minutes between classes and placing monitors in the hallways.”

Despite common leadership skills and school challenges, the students from the city and the suburb are learning about the differences between them, too. Harding Principal Joy Lindquist led a tour of Harding classrooms, telling the future leaders to note how the students and classrooms were alike and different from their home schools.

Story first published by Des Moines Public Schools.


7th Grade Leadership Academy

Co-sponsored by Drake University.