By Jill Doyle – Executive Assistant for Board & Stakeholder Relations, Westfield Washington Schools

We’ve all heard these sayings and many others like them. Model the Way, Walk the Talk, Lead by Example… I used to think of servant leadership when I heard these phrases and whether those that were leading the organizations I served followed these statements. Serving others and leading by example was the kind of leader I aspired to be and I looked for this kind of leadership in others.

Now that I have transitioned into a school system, I look at these phrases a little differently. Are we modeling the way for our youth? I don’t mean the building leaders and teachers; I mean are WE, the parents and community members, modeling the way?

Growing up today is so much harder than it used to be. There are so many more pressures, kids are expected to learn things at earlier ages, there are more extra curricular activities to be involved in and the social media presence and digital world is all consuming. Like it or not, growing up in Hamilton County has its own set of pressures. Are we modeling the way for our youth to make sure they have a healthy self image, recognize their abilities, and understand the importance of being a good citizen?

As parents and community members, do we model the behaviors we would like our youth to display? Are we kind? Are we considerate of others? Are we accepting and inclusive of others opinions? Do we put others first instead of always thinking of ourselves and what we want?

From a young age, our schools teach the guiding principles of hard work, compassion, honesty, responsibility, and respect. These are the things we should all display and model every day for our children. They seem so simple and elementary, yet, are truly the things that matter most.

As I learn more about the variety of challenges that face some of the youth in our community, I can’t help but think that if we, the adults and community members surrounding our youth, remembered to “model the way” we would all be better off.

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