Katherine is a junior at Midlothian High School. She spends the majority of her time competing on Midlo’s Varsity Cross Country and Track & Field teams. Running is her passion, and when she’s not with her team, she enjoys running with her amazing goldendoodle, Henry. Regularly, Katherine volunteers at St. Francis Hospital where she serves as a member of the Patient Response team and as a Star Trainer; this volunteer position is preparing her for her future in the medical field. For three years, Katherine has written for the MidloScoop, Midlothian High School’s online newspaper, and this year, she is the Editor-In-Chief. Katherine is also the founder of Midlothian High School’s SpeakUp Club, affiliated with the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation, whose mission centers around being a positive force of kindness for the Midlothian community. She is a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a mentor for freshmen students in Trojan Nations, a member of the Spirit Club, and a member of the Quill and Scroll International Honor Society. With her Cross Country team, she also volunteers for Pocahontas State Park and Sports Backers. Katherine’s academic and extracurricular leadership allowed her to represent Midlothian as a HOBY Scholar her sophomore year. Finally, Katherine lifeguards at the Midlothian YMCA and enjoys tutoring and babysitting for local families.
Why is learning through play and living a life of creativity important to you?
In our rapidly changing society, we must creatively inspire young children in order to encourage them to grow to become autonomous, innovative adults. By learning through creative experiences that inspire growth, children receive the opportunity to reach their full potential to better our world. I admire the mission of the Children’s Museum of Richmond because it sparks curiosity and fosters creative, innovative thinking in children, positively impacting the lives of children, parents, and our community as a whole.
I am a classic example of a child spending many hours of carefree play at the museum who now carries this mission into many aspects of my life, specifically in my role as the Editor-in-Chief of the MidloScoop online newspaper. My days at the museum laid the foundation for innovative thinking and real-world problem solving; as a four year old, that most likely looked like my attempts to find my way out of the treehouse or the larger-than-life model of the digestive system! As the Editor-In-Chief, I am responsible for not only editing stories, but, more importantly, motivating the staff to produce high-quality, thoughtful work in a timely manner. Because of the demands on our schedule and the tight deadlines around the newspaper, we sometimes struggle to meet deadlines and produce stories. My regular positivity and verbal encouragement were not working, so we needed an innovative way to engage them and solve our productivity problem in a creative and fun way. We developed a color system to illustrate weekly progress on stories and motivate the staff to reach the next color/step. Because the staff can visualize each step in the publication process and where we are as a team in the development of the next edition, the staff members now see themselves as integral contributors to our group goal. Also, when all staff members have accomplished the necessary tasks and arrived at the coveted blue category (all stories are published with enthusiasm!) we have a class celebration that includes food, drinks, and fun music (because every motivational plan should include a fun reward!). Our new system has been very successful because each member has ownership in the process, and we celebrate our accomplishments together.
What are important qualities for leaders to have?
Leadership is not about bossing people around, receiving external validation, or reaching a self-interested goal; leadership is about how a person motivates those around her, provides a positive space for all, and is open-minded to ideas. Above all, a leader must place self-interests aside and work selflessly for the collective good of the group. Furthermore, a leader must have courage--the courage to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, the courage to be true to herself, and the courage to respect all.
What qualities do you believe you have and how have you demonstrated leadership?
I possess all of these qualities (open-mindedness, positivity, selflessness, and courage) and demonstrate them in the classroom, on my team, and through my extracurricular activities. As a HOBY ambassador and Ken Tilly Leadership scholar, I have learned about the many ways to lead, and I implement these strategies into my everyday life. Whether I am leading a group in a collaborative project, mentoring freshmen, training volunteers, or babysitting children, I lead by having an open mind to all ideas, demonstrating a positive attitude and respect for all, and being courageous in my decision-making. I believe that I shoulder my greatest leadership position when I train new volunteers at the hospital, where mistakes cannot occur. As a trainer, I must have the courage to trust the new volunteers with the patients and relinquish control, even though the unknown sometimes makes me nervous. Leaders must have the ability to trust themselves and those in their organization, and by trusting my own teaching and the capability of the new volunteers, I relinquish control to benefit others and create a positive and helpful environment.