Millsap High School students, staff and community members are participating in classes to teach leadership and communication skills in a new program called LeadR4Life: I Am The Message.

The educational program launched last month with the first of three classes, and the next meeting is scheduled for November, LeadR4Life Founder and Facilitator Cynthia Bayuk-Bishop said. In between those meetings, students and teachers meet every two weeks. The group includes 25-28 students, seven staff members and four community members. The students are varied in age, academic performance and social activeness. 

The class uses the DISC assessment to determine each others communication style to collaborate, Bayuk-Bishop said. Each letter in DISC (Dominance, Interactive, Supportive, Conscientious) represents different personalities in a group.

“Are these skills leadership skills for their future? Absolutely,” Bayuk-Bishop said. “But these are the skills about building deep, meaningful relationships, and when I say that I’m not talking about the way that you love a spouse or a member of your family; it’s about that love that comes through respecting other individuals as human beings, recognizing that we all have unique gifts, and that it takes all these personality styles to make a balanced team, and when you don’t have a balanced team, you’ve got to make up for that gap and that contribution from that particular style.”

Bayuk-Bishop also said the class is another way for schools to address violence from the inside.

“Through this, can you eradicate any type of random act of violence? Well no, I’m definitely not saying that,” Bayuk-Bishop said. “I’m just saying that if we can intervene early on when we see that a student is in need, that student is going to be better prepared for life than if we just continued to not intervene and let the disparity or the fear, the trauma, whatever it is that’s happening in that kid’s life. We have them so many hours a day, five days a week, 36 weeks out of the year, that we should be able to recognize the signs and the signals, and then provide that support for improving the emotional health of everyone.”

At the end of the school year, the students in the class will present a showcase to the student body and allow more people to get involved in the class, Bayuk-Bishop said. The vision is to provide the program campus-wide.

The program started last year at Bells ISD, which is in North Texas, east of Sherman. Millsap ISD is the second district in the state to use the program.

A week after the program started, MISD Superintendent Deann Lee said the response from the class has been overwhelming. The program teaches leadership but also how to make positive changes in the world.

“If you see something that you feel could be better, whether that be in your school or in your community, then what would be a positive way of going about that,” Lee said. “Or even if you see two people, not in good sorts, how could you positively intervene and help that.”

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