Co-sponsored by the St. Mary’s College Leadership Center

Saturday, March 17, 2012
St. Mary’s College
Moraga, CA

More than 60 middle school students (5-8th graders) from 15 Catholic elementary schools from the Dioceses of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and Stockton gathered at St. Mary’s College in  Moraga on Saturday, March 17 for TACSC’s Student Leadership Day.

Schools in attendance included:  Holy Rosary School (Woodland)l, Resurrection School (Sunnyvale), St. Anselm’s (San Anselmo), St. Basil’s (Vallejo), St. Bernard (Tracy), St. Elizabeth Seton (Palo Alto), St. Frances Cabrini (San Jose), St. Hilary (Tiburon),  St. Isidore’s (Danville), St. John Vianney (San Jose and Rancho Cordova), St. Martin School (Sunnyvale), St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception (Los Gatos), St. Stanislaus (Modesto) and St. Thomas More (San Francisco).

After a welcome by our Executive Director Gene Detre and our opening prayer, Associate Director Annette Finnane introduced the program’s keynote speaker Dr. Elizabeth Brewer*, an adjunct professor in the Loyola Marymount School of Education, Center for Catholic Education. Dr. Brewer is an accomplished speaker and nationally recognized for her research in safe and responsible internet use.  She walked through an engaging presentation that helped our students better understand how they can demonstrate leadership everyday by modeling the “right way to act” in digital spaces (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).   In a separate session, Dr. Brewer met with 20 parents to provide a more detailed set of “How Tos” on helping their kids safely navigate the internet.  Mixing her comments with humorous cartoons, anecdotes, and startling findings from her own research, Dr. Brewer provided her audience with a “perfect” internet introduction.

TACSC’s seasoned staff of high school and college students (all of whom are graduates of TACSC’s Summer Leadership Conference) facilitated many parts of the day’s program and provided workshop presentations on gaining confidence in personal presentation skills, on building a united team that drives action and fine tuning specific skills for one’s Student Council office.

Following lunch, the afternoon program came alive as students participated in the “TACSC Leadership Challenge”.  Teams of students applied the information they gleaned from the morning’s workshops as they moved through six stations of “Amazing Race”-like games, quizzes and challenges. “We created the Leadership Challenge to give the students a chance to do some “just in time“ application as they worked through each of the challenges,” says Jim Oswald, President of the TACSC Board and creator of the Leadership Challenge.  “The activities place them in situations where if they can use the info they just learned from our staff, they will be significantly more successful and overall better communicators and collaborators and LEADERS in their schools and communities.”

During the course of the day, we had the opportunity to talk extensively with many parents and see the excitement over what their children were experiencing.   Parents discussed how the Student Leadership Day gave the students the opportunity to begin the development of their leadership skills in confident communication, They were also enthused that Dr. Brewer’s presentation provided immediate steps they could use to guide their children not only with safe internet use, but with how to model leadership skills when dealing with the unique social challenges of the digital world.

As is traditional with TACSC programs, the St. Mary’s Student Leadership Day ended with a prayer service celebrating the events of the day.

*Beth Brewer is an adjunct professor in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University in West Los Angeles. She teaches in the department of specialized programs in urban education and conducts research on the use of technology as a tool to educate middle school students about cyber bullying and its dangers.  Dr. Brewer holds a dual Bachelor’s degree in political science and creative writing from the University of Southern California, a Masters degree in Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount, and will be awarded a doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice in May.  Prior to teaching at the university level, Dr. Brewer taught government and economics to 12th grade students at a Catholic school in West Los Angeles.  In addition to her research on cyberbullying, Dr. Brewer is a member of the Culver City Unified School District’s Anti-bullying Task Force and speaks about cyber bullying at conferences and schools across around the country.