A core belief at Gibbons is that all school members have the potential to lead, and that authentic learning opportunities can help them develop the skills needed to succeed as leaders.
One of those opportunities is the annual three-day Gibbons Leadership Conference or GLC. For the last 14 years, the conference assisted educators and students alike to discover their inner leader. It also helped them to celebrate and promote the vibrant campus life at Gibbons. This year’s conference was held July 29 to July 31 and took place for the first time at the Cardinal Gibbons Short Journey Retreat Center in Smithfield.
“The focus of this year's GLC was figuring out what you value and making that the root of all of that you do at Gibbons” Gabi Burn ’08, director of leadership formation and science educator, who served as the conference leader.
Joining the 25 junior and senior students on their leadership journey were eleven Gibbons educators as well as nine student mentors, another program first. Gabi Burn ’08, director of leadership formation and science educator, served as the conference leader.
Explaining the focus of this year’s conference Burn said: “The focus was figuring out what you value and making that the root of all of that you do at Gibbons.” The group also focused on relationships, Burn explained, adding that seeing “many new relationships being formed in front of my eyes,” was a conference highlight.
Keeland Covell ’21 said she liked the conference’s environment. ” Everyone was so passionate about the ideas they wanted to share, but always were eager to listen to what others had to say.”
What of lessons learned at the conference? “The hope,” said Burn, “is that students realized a stronger understanding of our school’s vision and its process for how we make decisions about what we want to change in our school.”
The added hope, she noted, is that participants identified as leaders, but also found ways to grow their skills and make changes that would enhance Gibbons.
Participants said they are eager to put what they learned into action. “I learned how to collaborate with different types of leaders and what I can bring to the table as a leader myself,” Covell said. “This year I hope to work with people throughout Gibbons … and ultimately make the school a better place.”
Gordon Galloway, a social studies educator and lacrosse coach, also took away a lesson from the conference. “We were reminded several times about how important it is for us to focus on applying these principles in our own spheres of influence, our proverbial zip code,” he said. “For me, the question is: How can I improve as a leader right now, in our lacrosse off-season, and in my own social studies classroom as we kick off the new year?”
He also said he came away from the conference as a Carolina Mudcats fan. What’s the connection between baseball and the leadership conference?
“We attended the game as a group, was given a tour of the facilities, and learned about leadership from the assistant general manager of the Mudcats,” Burn explained. She described the outing as another highlight and a new component to the conference
While holding the conference at Short Journey was a new component, it also was a deeply personal experience for participants, she said. “There are many benefits to Short Journey, but key among them,” she noted, “is that it just simply feels like home.”
Galloway added: “We are planting the seeds … for an incredible tradition that will carry on for generations of our students and educators.”