Educators are leaders, too. They influence followers in the achievement of common goals. Both K-12 and Higher Education are rapidly realizing that if education is to be effective across the globe, teachers and administrators will have to sharpen their leadership skills. Through the McDonough Leadership Program, emerging educators will expand their tools to be change agents in the classroom and in school systems across the globe.
Abigail Kuhn '04
1. Basic Information:
Name: Abigail Kuhn
Title: Grades 6-8 Social Studies Teacher
Organization: Ann Arbor Learning Community
City: Ann Arbor, MI
2. Educational Record:
At Marietta College:
Graduation Year: 2004
Major: Middle Childhood Education, Cum Laude
Master of Arts in Educational Technology Candidate
3. Living the Mission Reflection:
When I first moved to Ann Arbor in the spring of 2006, I never dreamed I would still be here eight years later. During these years as a teacher at Ann Arbor Learning Community, I have been provided with numerous professional experiences that have helped me develop as an educator. I have served as lead teacher for four years and have also enjoyed the opportunities to be the yearbook coordinator and National History Day advisor. At our school, we seek to foster a lifetime love of learning, which is something that grew during my time at Marietta, both through the Education Department and the McDonough Center, and is something that I still value greatly today. As a Henry Ford Teaching Fellow in 2013, I had the opportunity to collaborate with other passionate educators to write curriculum for teachers to use with the museum’s collections. While I discovered how the museum could enrich the education of my students and supplement what goes on in my classroom, this time also allowed me to work with the larger community to design something that would benefit more than the students in my classroom.
Throughout my eight years of teaching, no experience has proven to be as enriching as traveling to China on a trip sponsored by National History Day during the summer of 2013. While our extensive reading prior to the trip centered on the trip theme, “Understanding Leadership: China in the 20th Century,” the value of the trip reached a number of levels. I gained a deeper appreciation for a place and culture that sometimes seemed so vastly different from that in the United States, and it was energizing to travel with a group of educators who value people, leadership, and education. As we moved from city to city in China, we were able to discuss broad issues of leadership through the lens of a country that changed so drastically in the 20th Century. There is no doubt that this trip gave me the opportunity to explore and reflect on my own leadership, which deepened my desire to help develop young leaders.
Inspired by the trip to China, I designed a weekend leadership camping retreat for the eighth graders at my school with the goal of helping students begin to see their role in our K-8 community and what it means for them as teenagers preparing to enter high school. I am excited to see how this program develops over time, and I believe that it is one way that I have been able to “give back” the gift of the McDonough Center.
My time as a McDonough student at Marietta helped me to develop a number of skills that I use on a daily basis today. It was there that I was encouraged to think about my role in an organization and how to work with a variety of people to accomplish a task. While I may not have been able to recognize it at the time, my desire to help develop young leaders took root during my time at Marietta. I continue to be thankful for the ways in which the people of the McDonough Center and the wider Marietta community invest in their students in an effort to foster leadership in various organizations through a life of “service above self,” and I am confident that I will continue to benefit from this as I seek to “give back the gift.”
Michele Hodge Stallings '94
1. Basic Information:
Name: Michele Hodge Stallings
Title: Registrar/Testing Coordinator
Organization: KIPP Gaston College Preparatory
City: Gaston State: NC Country: USA
2. Educational Record:
At Marietta College:
Graduation Year: 1994
Major(s): B.S. in Chemistry Summa Cum Laude
Minor(s): French and Leadership Studies
Honors/Awards: Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Beta Kappa, Marietta College Alumni Association Community Service Award
3. Describe your organization and what you do in this organization (job responsibilities, recent projects, work environment).
KIPP is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. KIPP began in 1994 when two teachers, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, launched a fifth grade public school program in inner-city Houston, TX, after completing their commitment to Teach for America.
There are currently 65 KIPP schools in 19 states and the District of Columbia serving over 16,000 students. KIPP Gaston College Preparatory is just one of these schools that builds partnership among parents, students, and teachers that puts learning first.
In 2001, I joined the founding staff of KIPP Gaston College Preparatory as its 5 th grade science teacher after having taught high school Chemistry and Physics for three years as a 1998 Teach for America corps member. At GCP, we added a new grade each year, and we finally expanded to a full 5 th-8 th grade school in 2004. Over the course of that time, I continued to teach 5 th grade science, but also taught some sections of 6 th and 8 th grade science, PE, French, and Band.
This year, I am moving into a new role as the school registrar. In 2005, we opened our high school with 9 th grade, and this year, those students, which were my first 5 th graders in 2001, are graduating. As a part of my registrar role, I will make sure the students’ transcripts, GPA’s, and other pertinent information is accurate for their college application process.
4. Briefly discuss how "leadership" plays a role in your professional field.
As a classroom teacher, you, not by choice either, are a leader. When a room full of 25-30 youngsters are sitting there the first day of school and their eyes are all on you, you literally are put on the spot to lead them. In your classroom, you are responsible for leading your students to meet or exceed the goals that have been set forth and you have to do whatever it takes to get the kids there. But, the responsibilities of a classroom teacher go beyond the classroom, Implementing leadership skills is important when dealing with parents, administration, and the community.
In the field of education, your impact on students isn’t limited to just being their teacher. You often have the opportunity to coach sports, sponsor clubs, serve as grade or department chair, and organize extracurricular activities. Success in each of these roles is guided by a person’s ability to lead well.
5. Briefly discuss how the McDonough Leadership Program prepared you for this professional field and leadership challenges.
When I first stepped foot on Marietta’s campus in 1990, I was dead set on going to medical school when I graduated. I took almost all of the required pre med classes by my junior year and declared Chemistry (finally, after 2 years of uncertainty) my major. However, it was my volunteer experiences through the leadership program that gave me insight into other career paths that I never thought of.
My freshman year at Marietta, I started volunteering at the Marietta YMCA in the areas of youth programming and sports. Under the direction of Tedd Maxfield, I had the opportunity to coach and officiate youth sports, help run youth lock-ins, and organize activities for fun nights. By my senior year, I was sometime left “in charge” when he wasn’t present.
These experiences at the YMCA definitely had a profound impact on my life. Not only did they drive my career decisions in a dramatically different direction than I ever imagined, but they made me realize several key points that I feel have lead to my success as an educator:
1) Bravery is necessary for success
2) Time management is of up most importance
3) Delegating responsibilities maintains sanity
4) Teamwork makes problem solving easier
5) Communication is a vital component to the learning process