College of Education students among Presidential Leadership Academy participants
College of Education Dean Kimberly Lawless also celebrated with Hibbard. Lawless first met Hibbard at the freshman seminar she co-taught last fall.
âValarie was always seated in the front row of our class and I could always count on her to contribute to the discussions in a very thoughtful and informed manner. Then Valarie joined ESC and got very involved in college life, and I saw how quickly she immersed herself in the work of this group, âsaid Lawless. âI am convinced that Valarie’s involvement with the APL will help her to work better with the students, parents and teachers that she will meet as a future educator. “
Suzanne Brokloff, Hibbard Academic Advisor as well as ESC Co-Advisor, said: âFrom the day she accepted her offer at Penn State, Valarie has repeatedly shown how she takes initiative, supports others and embraces the ‘We are’ spirit. She inspires others and shows many qualities that APL will help develop even more fully. She has already taken the lead a few times this year to serve on various committees within ESC and has definitely made a positive impression and made a name for herself in this organization.
A third College of Education student, Maude Tarbox, has just completed the program.
âBeing a part of PLA has been an amazing experience,â said Tarbox. âI was challenged to think from new perspectives, to defend my ideas and to work collaboratively with those who have different opinions. I was able to learn about myself and others through classroom and non-classroom experiences. To me, that means I’m taking real action to create a better me and a better state of Pennsylvania. The APL has made me a more informed citizen, a stronger leader and an empathetic friend.
Hibbard looks forward to immersing himself in the opportunities offered by the PLA. Griffith and Tarbox both know what to expect.
“What struck me the most during my second year was having lessons with the president [Eric] Barron, âGriffith said. âHe spoke openly about the issues facing our university and universities across the country. We look at leadership and decision making through his eyes, and in doing so, we have learned to better assess issues and biases. President Barron, I believe, is also learning from members of the class. “
Last year Griffith interned for the PLA, working closely with Doberstein to create a lineup and work to select the next class of PLA members.
âWe worked with unique challenges while also being virtual to try to build community and give academy members and alumni the chance to engage in professional development and home wellness. I am currently majoring in public education policy and plan to go to a graduate school for higher education administration and leadership, so being able to see the inner workings of the PLA has has been a very valuable experience for me, âsaid Griffith.
As a fourth year student this fall, Griffith looks forward to working closely with her PLA Alumni Mentor to prepare to apply for graduate school.
âI’m also looking forward to another integrated PLA trip, hopefully,â Griffith said. âThese trips are very valuable experiences to see leadership in action in other places across the country. It builds on the work we do in our PLA courses and gives us totally unique professional experiences. Travel also allows me to connect with PLA members outside of my cohort and learn more about their way of seeing the world.
Tarbox said his membership in the PLA has enabled him to become a more intentional, balanced and thoughtful person.
âThere are so many moments, lessons and memories from PLA that I will keep with me for years to come. From captivating speakers to fun dinners and unforgettable field trips, those memories are hard to narrow down to a few favorites, âshe said. âAs an educator, I am more of a confident teacher as I am equipped with the skills to create a classroom environment where respect is a cornerstone and intolerance becomes unacceptable. “
Griffith and Tarbox have some advice for Hibbard as she enters her first year in the program.
âThe best advice I have for Valarie in PLA would be to be yourself in class. Everyone comes to class with their beliefs and perspectives, and it’s worth having yours. In PLA, it’s not about “speaking out loud” and it’s not about agreeing. PLA is about being real, vulnerable and honest in a confusing world, âGriffith said.
She added: âAnother tip would be to ask questions. As education majors, we know that the only way to become better versions of ourselves and for others is to become educated and educate others. Always seek understanding and knowledge, even if it does not lead to a concrete answer.
Tarbox said: âI would first like to offer Valarie my sincere congratulations. I am so excited to see more College of Education students joining PLA. The best advice I can give her is to say “yes” to as many ABS opportunities as she can over the next three years, including being present at class discussions, spending time with classmates, having dinner with the Hintzes and going on field trips. “
She continued, âThere are endless opportunities within the PLA, but you have to invest your time. I have never looked back once I said yes, and now I have amazing memories and friendships that I will always cherish.
Founded with a principal endowment from Edward R. and Helen S. Hintz in 2009, the PLA was established with the aim of developing critical thinking skills and educating students to understand problems at large taking into account the complexity and variability of problems, decisions and life circumstances – ie the “gray areasâGlobal and local decisions.
To be considered, prospective first year students must have a GPA of 3.2 or above at the time of application. For more information on Penn State’s Presidential Leadership Academy, visit academy.psu.edu.