Public Education, Military Sustain U.S. Democracy, Expert Says
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
HOUSTON, July 20, 2006 A new program aims to help military students develop leadership skills, patriotism, commitment to selfless service, and intellectual and problem-solving capacity.
The "Student 2 Student Initiative," under the auspices of the Frances Hesselbein Student Leadership Program, is a student-led, school-managed program designed to help students moving from one school to another focus on the positive aspects of their new experiences.
The Military Child Education Coalition, a nonprofit group that advocates on issues facing military families, sponsors the program.
"The leadership program will develop our leaders of the future, who are our hope," Frances Hesselbein said during a Military Child Education Coalition conference here last week.
Hesselbein, for whom the program is named, is chairwoman of the MCEC's Leader-to-Leader Institute board of governors and a former chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of America. She is also a 1998 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
She said her experiences have led her to believe that two institutions -- public schools and the military -- sustain America's democracy.
She said she often lectures at military education centers and always leaves impressed by the people she meets at such institutions. "When I leave those campuses and those military academies and our educational centers -- West Point, Army War College, Air University -- I'm filled with hope, for I have seen our leaders of the future," she said.
Patty Shinseki, wife of former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki and a member of the MCEC Board of Directors, introduced Hesselbein to the conference. Shinseki said Hesselbein is a champion of the public, private and social sectors working together to improve schools, families and communities. "In this way she works to change lives and create the diverse, inclusive, cohesive community that defines us, both ... as a nation and a people," Shinseki said.
Hesselbein said she was honored to have the program named for her.
"You have given me one of the greatest honors of my life -- placing my name on this student leadership program, a student program bringing together the most essential elements of principled, effective leadership: education, values, love of country," she said.
She also praised members of the Military Child Education Coalition attending the conference. "Ten years from now, when they write the history of this collaboration, your contribution to student learning and leadership, may they say of you: 'For a little while they held a splendid torch. The future called, and they responded,'" Hesselbein said.