Years ago, KidsMatter recommended that students have an opportunity to serve on Naperville Boards and Commissions. Why? KidsMatter knows that it is important for young people to feel valued. It is also essential that young people are seen as resources and given roles in the community, and above all, that they are provided an opportunity to be of service to others. Since then, many students have had the opportunity to learn, serve and grow as student representatives on a City of Naperville Board or Commission.
Two years ago, in partnership with the City, KidsMatter began a Leadership Academy to enhance the Student Representative experience.
The Leadership Academy meets three times a year to foster lifelong leadership skills in youth. Participants learn about personal style, traits and character that impact self-leadership, as well as skills for leading others, such as team development, conflict management, coaching/feedback, and motivation. Students examine leadership behaviors that are required to lead an organization – understanding finance, strategy, mission, market reputation and dynamics – and become familiar with Board Meetings, as they learn about Board agendas and meeting protocols and committee work.
Throughout the experience, students can meet leaders in government, hear about their career pathways, and ask questions.
This year students heard from the Mayor, Steve Chirico; Executive Director of the Library, Dave Della Terza; President & CEO of Naper Settlement, Macarena (Rena) Tamayo-Calabrese; and Deputy City Manager, Marcie Schatz. They also met via Zoom with the former Ambassador to China, Ambassador Branstad and his Chief of Staff Steve Churchill (NCHS ’81); and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, who once served on the City of Naperville Fair Housing Commission as a student at Neuqua Valley High School.
Applications for students to serve on a Board or Commission will be available in September through the City of Naperville.