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Fostering Leadership for Life: LEAD 212 Class Leaders

The 2017 Class Leaders at a training event this past spring

The LEAD 212: Introduction to Leadership Concepts course has been a cornerstone experience of Leadership Studies for 20 years. From the beginning, this course has invited junior and senior level students to teach alongside the faculty, as a way to advance their leadership learning and the learning of the students they work with. These “Class Leaders” serve as valuable points of connection and learning for students along their leadership journey and their K-State experience.

LEAD 212 now reaches and serves approximately one in every four first semester freshmen at K-State, between 600-900 students, and we’ve expanded from a small group of Class Leaders to a community of 50-75 Class Leaders each fall.

Students in LEAD 212 meet for two hours, one day per week. The first hour is spent in Town Hall, learning from one of our instructors in a large lecture setting. However, the second hour is where their learning really takes shape—as the students break into small learning communities of around 12 students, facilitated by their Class Leader.

Class Leaders help teach by facilitating small group discussions, leading active-learning exercises, and creating a learning community with their students. They serve as a bridge between students and instructors—and work individually with each student enrolled to help them learn the academic discipline of leadership and transition successfully to the K-State campus community.

“The Class Leader experience is one of the most immersive and experiential learning opportunities the Staley School has to offer,” said Mary Tolar, Director of the Staley School of Leadership Studies. Since the very beginning of our program, class leaders have brought tremendous value and provided a unique and irreplaceable component to our learning community.

The role of a Class Leader is a very challenging one, but it is amid this engaging and often hectic environment where authentic and impactful learning takes place. “My experience as a Class Leader has changed my leadership journey from ‘I’ to ‘we;’ it has taught me that my journey is not just self-discovery but involves helping others start their own leadership journey,” said former class leader Autumn Snesrud.

Supporting the LEAD 212 Class Leaders

As the necessity for leadership in our world grows, the demand for our program does as well. But, with new opportunities, so too, come new challenges. In a time of diminishing resources for higher education, often student employment opportunities are the first to feel the strain. But those who have received the minor in leadership studies—or are one of the over 500 students who have served as a Class Leader—know first-hand what makes LEAD 212 such a transformational experience for the students and facilitators alike.

Through our 20th Anniversary Fund, you can help us establish strong learning communities that are anchored by the best and brightest young facilitators, foster the leadership of first-year K-State students, and make mentorship and powerful learning happen. By supporting the Class Leader experience, you not only provide a key resource for a first-year student to connect with campus and grow as a leader but also an opportunity for a Class Leader to practice their leadership as facilitators and peer mentors.

The opportunity to serve as a facilitator for Introduction to Leadership Concepts has been extended to some of the earliest alumni of the program, and we hope those alumni will reconnect with what it meant for them and consider helping sustain these opportunities into the next 20 years and beyond!

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