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People of Revilla High Display Leadership Qualities
by Rick Grams


May 07, 2004

I'd like to present to you a concept of leadership displayed every day by a group of over 200 people. These people are the students, teachers and parents of Revilla High School. Amongst the confines of this school are some of the most determined people we will ever meet. In this school an environment exists where all voices are heard, all options are explored, with the always obtainable goal of achieving the illustrious High School Diploma. Using the leadership template from James M. Kouzes and Barry S. Posner I shall present how the five leadership qualities are present at Revilla High School.

Leadership Qualities

Challenge the Process - Challenging the process involves experimenting and taking risks even if you might fail. Asking "What can we learn?" when things don't go as expected are a natural response for natural leaders. Students at Revilla High School are always looking for ways to improve and innovate, because the environment provided to them allows for such thought. As the Father of a Revilla High School student I've met students who have unknowingly described some leadership experiences, and have shared stories where they imagined an exciting and highly attractive future of our community and/or country.

Enable Others - Revilla High School students constantly involve others (parents are welcome anytime) in planning the actions that affect them. With the teachers acting as a guide, the student is free to make their own decisions regarding education. This creates an attitude of mutual trust and respect amongst students, faculty, and parents.

Likewise, successful faculty members enable others by teaching and modeling effective human interaction skills, meeting management skills, and process improvement skills. They encourage goal setting and adherence to agreed-upon standards. They give feedback. They are clear about what they are there to do while they share their knowledge and skills about effectiveness.

Model the Way - To be clear about values and beliefs people must adhere to agreed-upon values. In the atmosphere of dealing with younger people, it is imperative to be consistent in practicing what you preach. Revilla faculty have found that by fostering a trusting and sharing team with a student, they will band together when things go terribly wrong, especially when there is something sensitive to solve such as a behavioral problem. The faculty makes sure to praise the students even on the smallest of successes.
The faculty also tells the students how glad they are that the students are working on a problem and they look forward to seeing the results.

Inspire a Shared Vision - This is the concept that a leader describes to others the kinds of future to be created together. When others are shown how their interests can be fulfilled by a common vision a positive and hopeful outlook has been communicated. Now, this is a subject where Revilla strays from the norms of public education. In a regular public school, a student will be "inspired" to be part of a club, a sports team, or some group of students seeking the same goal. At Revilla, the vision to be shared is the individual success of graduating. Indeed, this can be an inspiring journey of self-awareness for a student when the rest of the community has counted that same student "down and out." It is at this point in a student's life where the faculty starts showing the view of life beyond the foreseeable horizon and begins to instill the hope that lies within each of us.

Encourage the Heart - When a leader sets clear standards, they can ignite such absolute and total personal belief within another individual, which can provide the self-confidence in their own abilities to make extraordinary things happen. Through report cards, weekly assignments, and daily papers feedback is provided about the grade status of how student is doing. However, when encouraging the heart, the reward may be the same for those meeting different standards. Revilla High School faculty takes the time to acknowledge the difference in learning behavior amongst all students. Each student is treated as an individual, and therefore each reward is based more on the applied effort of an accomplishment rather than the accomplishment itself.

Other members of a team can lead by doing every one of those things listed under leadership skills. They may do so even though not from a formal leadership position.

The long-term goal of a successful leader is to work oneself out of a job by modeling effective group behavior and teaching group members how to get those same beneficial results. As the leaders, Revilla faculty appears to have brought a bag of magic tricks to the students and saying: "Hey, I've got some nifty stuff to show you that you can use to get great results. We'll be together only a little while to show you a few tricks, explain how we did them, let you try them out on your own in a safe environment, then we'll coach you with a little feedback on how you're doing with the stuff and tell you what adjustments you might want to consider doing it to fit your own style. Afterwards, your life will take you away. So we'll be there by invitation for a while, but eventually we'll go away because you won't need me. You'll be doing so well you won't need our services, you'll already have them!"

The leadership attributes reflected at Revilla High School by the faculty and in turn by the students are exactly the tools we need for the society of tomorrow. When effective faculty take a personal interest in the long-term development of their students, they are sharing the process of tactfulness and other social skills the students will need to exhibit as they grow into the adult leaders of the community. Leadership is not about being nice or understanding, its about tapping into individual motivations in the interest of furthering a community's goal through education.

While I've proceeded through a Supervisory Management class and learned some in depth details about management and leadership, I find myself disappointed that our local community lacks these essential skills for success. As the class continued, I found it necessary to find my "example" of an organization living the values of "leadership." One day in class, Mr. Ewest was in the middle of a lecture about the qualities of leadership. I had just completed another successful parent-teacher conference regarding my daughter at Revilla High School prior to this class and to my relief; I realized Revilla High School was the organization within Ketchikan that would exemplify leadership by not throwing a young person out to society without the proper background knowledge to succeed in life.


Rick Grams
Ketchikan, AK - USA


Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. (1998). Student Leadership Practices Inventory. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Prentice, W.C.H.(2004, January). Harvard Business Review. Understanding Leadership. 102-109.



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