The first impression of Project Lead the Way is that it's a program for teenagers who are eager to become leaders. But it's much more than that; it's a collaboration between different generations, both striving for success.
TRIO Student Support Services of Purdue Northwest and TheMillenial.Be, a professional group from Chicago, have been developing Project Lead the Way for five years. It was an all-day interactive conference designed to enhance the communication, problem solving, and teamwork skills of high school students in Porter County. The program taught the college bound students that being a leader means working together and for over a decade, TheMillenial.Be founder, Adrian Rosado, has been teaching students this very philosophy.
“I realized that the students I was working with had the skills to do it themselves," Rosado said. "The way our generations group up, we can complete a task better in a group. Each of these students can offer something on their own. But when we put them together, they can do something larger.”
The mentees of the program were students from Portage, Michigan City, La Porte, and New Vistas High Schools. Their instructors for the day were PNW students involved in TRIO. All of them had at least two things in common: they were learning to become leaders, and were the first in their families to attend college. They became acquainted and bonded with each other through Lead the Way’s interactive puzzles and activities.
“It’s a great way to bring me out of my shell,” said Abraham Faulkner, a senior at Portage High School. “Collaboration gets people to put their ideas together, to solve problems in ways they normally wouldn’t.”
The mentors of TRIO collaborated with the creative staff of TheMillenial.Be to bring their workshop ideas to life through interactive games. Stranded: A Survival Experience was a human sized board game where one team member had to make his way across a path of riddles and stunts. It required everyone to make decisions together. Another game, called 007 Shades Darker, divided the conference into smaller groups that raced to build a shelter. Their sparse supplies demanded they literally think outside the box. Golden Fingers, a classic human knot puzzle, taught them how one person’s actions can affect the whole.
“Leadership is collaboration and teamwork,” said TRIO Director Catalina Rodriquez. “It’s about what responsibility you have, what role. You need to make decisions for the team instead of for yourself. I want the students to learn that leadership is within them, and exists in different forms.”
This is the second year that Project Lead the Way has been led by TRIO students and TheMillenial.Be. Its first year was a three-hour workshop. Rodriquez and Rosado developed the program into one that uses a collaboration of individual activities to reinforce a patchwork of skills necessary to be a leader. They have both shared their ideas at the TRIO National Conference in San Diego.
Kayla Jackson, a TRIO mentor said, “You can’t get anywhere in life without working together to get something.”
For more information about Project Lead the Way, go to www.pltw.org.