Leadership session on volunteerism inspires Fort Bend ISD Students

Pictured from left are: Kathrin James of Kempner High School, Kevin Zhang of Elkins High School, Ruthanne Mefford, Breona Autry of Marshall High School; Susan Hohnbaum, FBISD Board Vice President; and Michael Madden, Student Leadership Program Facilitator.

Pictured from left are: Kathrin James of Kempner High School, Kevin Zhang of Elkins High School, Ruthanne Mefford, Breona Autry of Marshall High School; Susan Hohnbaum, FBISD Board Vice President; and Michael Madden, Student Leadership Program Facilitator.

Student participants in Fort Bend ISD’s Student Leadership 101 program were inspired to become more involved in their communities after hearing powerful messages from three Fort Bend County professionals regarding their volunteer service to our community.

The FBISD leadership group visited with representatives of CASA House, Project SMILE and Bethel Ministries during their monthly session, sponsored by FBISD Board Vice President, Susan Hohnbaum.

When visiting CASA House, students learned about the unfortunate but uplifting journey that children take when entering the child welfare system. Ruthanne Mefford, Executive Director of Child Advocates of Fort Bend, explained the types of services and programs that are provided to children and the various roles of adult volunteers who advocate on behalf of the children. She also led the leadership class in a role-play activity that better explained the path that abused or neglected children take when entering the system.

“We rely on the services of many professionals and volunteers who assist us in helping children feel comfortable and well taken care of while they’re in the system,” said Mefford.

When arriving to Bethel Ministries, the modest structure didn’t prepare students for the wealth of services that are provided to the community through such efforts as Project SMILE and Santa’s Exchange Program. Carolyn Tarver, Founder of Project SMILE and Becky Torres, Director of Mission Outreach, have helped orchestrate the delivery of food, clothing, and educational services to thousands of children and families for the past 30 years. During their visit, the students witnessed “first-hand” the assembly line of volunteers preparing boxes of food items for families in need.

“Today’s session impacted me very much,” said Renaja Burns of Hightower High School. “When you look at how many people are out there in need, it makes you want to help make a change. I liked seeing how people who really don’t have much or may be in difficult situations themselves can also impact people in need. Giving back is an unselfish act that benefits not only other people, but yourself.”

Following their field trip, the leadership class convened at the FBISD Administration Building Board Room to meet with FBISD Director of Student Support Services, Dr. Bob Conlon. He shared results of a national Gallup Student Poll that measured the amount of hope, engagement and sense of well-being that our students have.

Conlon engaged the students by asking, “if you were a principal and received the Gallop poll results, what would you do to make a change?” Some of the student responses were to “ease the competition atmosphere,” “present better promotion of outside opportunities,” and “raise teacher standards.”

After hearing the students’ responses, Susan Hohnbaum assured them that the Board of Trustees is listening. “It’s exciting to hear you talk about the things that are important to your education,” she said. “As a Board, just know that we are listening and making changes that will help prepare you to become lifelong learners and productive members of society.”

Michael Madden, Student Leadership Program Facilitator, ended the session by leading students in “Hot Topics” and “Fort Bend…What do YOU Know?” assignments to gauge students’ knowledge and awareness of happenings within the district and community.

Short URL: http://www.fortbendstar.com/?p=37631

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