By Kenzie Woessner, Senior Editor-in Chief, The Talon Yearbook

 On Thursday, November 13, 2014, Rockwall ISD School Board Vice-President Linda Duran visited the Student Leadership classes at Rockwall-Heath High School. Duran had previously visited one of the classes with Principal Tom Maglisceau. She and Leah Voth, RHHS Leadership Teacher, agreed that it would be a great opportunity for the students to have more time to gain insights and benefits from the words of wisdom that Duran planned to share with them.

“You take the lead because you see a need,” Duran said. She shared a story of her time as a high school counselor, when she led a weekly group of grieving students. One student, “Joseph,” communicated his desire to drop out of school. Duran’s response was to sit down and cry and beg him to reconsider. “I decided at that point that as long as I was a counselor, there would be a place for grieving students in my school.” Years later, she encountered this student, whom she no longer recognized. He had turned things around and was doing well with his life. “Mrs. Duran, don’t you recognize me? I’m Joseph.” He was pursing a degree in law enforcement.

“I never forgot that you cared enough to cry for me,” he told Duran. “There’s lots of different ways to change people—showing genuine and real caring and emotion made a difference. I’m lucky I ever found out later…how we affect people.”

“You step up when there’s a need—that’s leadership,” Duran said. “It’s amazing how one person can change a whole group for positive,” she continued. She asked students to write down their personal definitions of leadership and talked about the different types of leaders—authoritative, service, transformational/inspirational leaders.

She then asked students to write three qualities that they possess that make them good leaders. “I said selfless, proactive, and caring,” Senior Lauren Stilley said. “I said someone who is intelligent, perseveres, and is persuasive,” Senior Ryan McKay said. “Stepping up to do what’s right and not being afraid to make the decisions that are tough to make,” Senior Annabelle Baker said.

“It doesn’t matter if you have leadership qualities if you don’t ever get anyone to follow…to buy in to what you’re doing,” Duran cautioned the students. “It’s very easy to get led the wrong direction—people lead the wrong way all the time.”

She then asked students to write down the first leadership experiences they ever had, followed by what leadership experiences they want for their future. Several students communicated a desire to be a CEO, a nurse, a philanthropist. Duran responded by saying that those are all great goals and leadership opportunities and added, “There are many kinds of leadership. You don’t have to have a title to be a leader.”

Photos by Kenzie Woessner

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