iLead fostering leadership skills in juniors

Iniya Nathan, CHS9 Editor

After a day of taking notes, actively listening and participating in group activities, Coppell ISD juniors leave another iLead session with more in depth knowledge on topics such as leadership and communication.

“I applied because service is a really big part of my life,” Coppell High School junior Shraavya Pydisetti said. “I thought this program would be a good way to really learn more about how I can better those skills and get a chance to connect with people and know how to be a better leader.” 

The district started the iLead program this year to replace a program called Teen Leadership Coppell, which was funded by the Coppell Chamber of Commerce and the City of Coppell. Teen Leadership Coppell was unable to continue due to COVID-19. The iLead program focuses on goals similar to TLC. 

The iLead program offers Coppell ISD juniors a chance to develop their leadership skills. The program has three facilitators: executive director of communications and community engagement Angela Brown, Superintendent Dr. Brad Hunt and CISD trustee Leigh Walker.

“It’s a great program to learn very specific skills about leadership, but also concepts of leadership and most importantly, to determine what are your leadership qualities,” Brown said.

The program has six sessions, with the most recent session on March 10. Each daily session focuses on a different topic, such as leadership, community business leaders and service organizations.

Each session has guest speakers and activities. Applications were open for juniors at CHS and New Tech @ Coppell, with the district selecting 54 members. 

“[Guest speakers] teach you about good leadership skills based on their experience and that’s been really useful for me and I met a lot of really good people who have helped me advance. I’ve learned a lot from them about how to be a good leader,” Pydisetti said.

While the program’s goal is to develop leadership skills in juniors, there are also other benefits of the program.

“Students feel like they’re developing relationships with students that they don’t always come into contact with,” Brown said. “Because we looked at a wide variety of students, they are developing some pretty extensive relationships with people that maybe aren’t in their classes. That has been a benefit of iLead.” 

While students miss school to attend the sessions for iLead, members think the sessions offer perspectives that school may not touch on.

“During school we usually just sit and watch the teacher or hear lectures and take notes,” CHS junior Neha Darimadugu said. “But at iLead we’re able to interact and engage with other students who think alike to us.” 

They also are able to immediately apply the skills they learn in iLead in their daily lives.

“I run a nonprofit organization called Project Querencia,” Pydisetti said. “iLead has helped me meet people who have been able to help me and give me advice on how to strategically plan with funding and how to get more people to notice the work we’re doing and how to make a bigger impact.”

Application dates for upcoming juniors will be communicated when dates are finalized. 

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