Students Participate in Ricochet Leadership Training

Students Participate in Ricochet Leadership Training
Posted on 01/17/2018
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To ricochet means to rebound off a surface and move around in an unpredictable manner, which is a fitting description of Spencer Middle School students as they participate in Ricochet: An Extreme Leadership Adventure.  According to the Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach website, the program was designed by ISU Extension and Outreach Youth Development Specialists and based on research outlined in the book — Youth Leadership: A Guide to Understanding Leadership Development in Adolescents by Josephine Van Linden and Carl Fertman. The name stems from the desire to help students ricochet their way to becoming a leader by focusing on five attributes: Leadership Information, Leadership Attitudes, Communication, Decision Making, and Stress Management. 

Retired Spencer Middle School (SMS) Language Arts Teacher, and current School Programming Coordinator for ISU Extension Clay County, Cheryl Hurst, is working with the students, devoting a lesson to each of the five leadership attributes.  This is Hurst’s third time teaching the curriculum, and she shared, “I absolutely love it!  We do these fun activities, and some of them are crazy and wild, but I want to make sure that the kids learn something from it too.” The sessions are a good mix of activity, coupled with group discussion and quiet time, allowing students to journal in their packets, answering a few questions that coordinate with the daily lesson to help reinforce the concepts.

Upon asking SMS 7th grader, Brennan Guerttman, about his experience with Ricochet, he shared that he was learning and having fun, saying, “We are learning about leadership and how to be a good leader and how to respect other people.  We get to do really cool activities too!” 

 As Hurst stated, the engaging curriculum is helping prepare students to become leaders and build important life skills.   According to SMS Guidance Counselor, Angie Ward, the program pairs well with the 7th and 8th grade Roads to Success (RTS) Exploratory Class, designed to cover topics that will help students to learn and build skills to be successful in the future. Topics covered over the two years of the RTS course include having a growth mindset (positive attitude), communication and networking, financial literacy, empathy, bullying prevention, substance abuse prevention, emotion management, study skills, career exploration and high school course planning.  The emphasis placed on the importance of developing valuable life skills is certain to benefit students as they ricochet their way through life.