What makes a good role model?
What makes a good role model? This is a question every Bethany Hill Place Emerging Leader must answer during their application process. The Emerging Leader program is in its second year. The program hires Bethany Hill Place children for leadership roles in their community. In order to be considered for a position a child must complete an application, interview, and attend professional development days. Also, the children understand that if they do not act as a role model they may lose their leadership position, because leaders always serve as role models for their community.
While this program has been positive for the children who take part – they gain professional skills, earn a small stipend, and form bonds with the other Emerging Leaders – it has also been a win for our community as a whole. Our Emerging Leaders know the spotlight is on them and they rise to the occasion. Their neighbors know they have earned Emerging Leader status and they want to prove they are right for the position. Residents have eagerly told me of Emerging Leaders helping new residents move in, carrying groceries for neighbors, and opting out of arguments with other children. Our Emerging Leaders understand they are tasked with being role models everywhere, not just when they do their job. The road to leadership is not always smooth, either. Several children have made mistakes. Some have been late to work or even behaved poorly in the building. But usually, these emerging leaders take even their failures as chances to learn. As one young Emerging Leader explained to me, she has a growth mindset. There are things she struggles with or can’t do, but she only can’t do it – yet.
My hope is the Emerging Leaders are making all residents and staff think about their status as role models. Real change comes when we understand our role in our community and the effect our actions and behavior have on those around us. I know the Emerging Leaders have led me to think about my actions. Am I acting as a role model in all aspects of my job, my life? These children truly are role models and have given much to common good of their community. Those of us watching them are inspired. We too want to act in a way that reflects our best selves and learn from our mistakes with grace. I am grateful for the Emerging Leaders for the work they do in our community, but I am more thankful for their service as role models for us all.
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