Leadership Symposium focused on vision, mission and goals

David Broyles Staff Reporter

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The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Symposium at B.H. Tharrington Primary School Tuesday morning was billed as a chance for participants to learn how vision, mission and goals work together for success.

The opening speech by Franklin Senior Lead Consultant Jonathan Catherman placed this in a larger picture of being one answer to providing leadership in future generations. Catherman, a 20-year veteran in public and private education, stressed the effort rooted in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Persons” is a process.

Participants were treated to a variety of presentations by Tharrington students who have been in the “Leader In Me” effort for more than three years.

“We believe these children can be leaders,” said Superintendent Operations and Personnel Jesse Hiatt to a group of more than 50 participants. “We have used the “Leader in Me” program at school here and are excited to show you what has been accomplished. We’re happy you’re letting us be a part of your day.”

Hiatt said Catherman, who lives in Charlotte, was highly involved with training staff members about the program in the beginning of the local effort.

“When’s the last time you said I wonder,” said Catherman. “The one rule I have here (in the symposium) is that you ask great questions so you get great answers. We live in a time where if you wonder about something you Google it and in three quarters of a second and you have more answers than you have time to look through and they don’t claim to be the right answer.”

Catherman asked the group what kind of stewardship would be required in 20 years of the younger generation and most answered greater stewardship of community and country would be required.

“Our question then becomes how do we get them to discover and rise to that level of stewardship,” Catherman said. “If we teach them to ask great questions they will find great answers. This begins by discussing and knowing each child’s leadership strengths.” He said this represents a shift in traditional interpretations of leadership.

He told the group the lowest level of this leadership definition is in three levels. The lowest level of this model is membership, or belonging to a group. If membership inspires participants to go beyond the regular expectations, that puts them in the next level which is stewardship. The level above this, when expectations are exceeded, is leadership.

“Leadership is a choice. If you don’t tell them how, that’s called proprietary and there’s a place for that, but when you open up and show them that’s open sourcing. Practice makes better just like in sports. This school gets to hear this from pre-K to fifth grade. They are helped learn their potential to lead with their unique talents, how to work with others and that working together we are better.”

He said participants must get a vision of what leadership should be and know the mission or purpose and the specific goals. Catherman said without purpose there is a problem and without vision people perish.

“I believe the emerging generation has the potential to do more good than any generation before it. They have the potential to change the world. The question is will they,” Catherman said. “We have to get specific with them now to get them started. They have the potential to change the world. The seven habits are a tool and you can use a tool in the right way or the wrong way. We must raise a generation of young people who think differently and they will act differently. It’s a big vision we have and you must speak it so. You must call out their courage.”

Students presented their class mission statements and family mission statements from student Greer Tidd’s family and Emma Milian’s family were also read aloud. Participants toured the school to view mission statements and goals and held a discussion panel on leadership. Songs were also performed by the first and second grade students.

WXII was on hand to announce first grade teacher Marie Niland as Teacher of the Week. Niland’s class will receive $1,000 to help in the classroom for the honor.

Reach David Broyles at or 336-719-1952.



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