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Empowering Local Community Leadership

Community Column by Alison Silva

Greetings, my name is Alison Silva. I attend East Grand Preparatory (EGP), a school in the Cityscape Schools district. I describe myself as a very hardworking student and very athletic, too. I did drill for a Mesquite organization and I also played volleyball for EGP. I am happy being me, and whatever the future holds, nobody will ever change that.

Since I started in the Digital Media Club, I was excited about writing my first column. Wondering what to write about, I started researching. A lot of ideas came to my mind, but one big idea that came to me was leaders. As you read the following question, please take a minute to answer it. What comes to your mind when you hear: What is a community leader? For me, a great community leader always leads by example. An effective community leader is accessible to all community members, including students, parents, teachers, staff, neighbors, and others. A straightforward way to perceive community leadership is to recognize it as leadership in, for, and by the community.

Fortunately, I recently had the opportunity to interview two great local community leaders: our school principal, Ms. Webb, and a Dallas police officer, Officer Lickwar. These are the results of my two interviews:

Ms. Webb’s Interview

Why have you decided for this job? “I have always loved working with children. I babysat as a teenager and worked in child care and children’s ministry as a young adult. I began working in the public school system in 2004. I served as a parent educator, community liaison, classroom teacher, lead teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal and principal. As far as deciding to work as a principal, I feel that it is more of a calling to serve as principal. My focus was never to pursue job titles as it was to serve and impact the lives of children and their families.  Having many years of high student success and leadership achievement has led me to the role of principal.”

What motivates you the most to do this job? “My passion and commitment for quality and equitable education motivates me to continue in this position. I am committed to inspiring and empowering the next generation of teachers to provide the highest quality of education possible. I am also motivated by the opportunity to empower students to have a thirst for learning and love for others.”

Mr. Lickwar’s Interview

Why did you choose this job and what motivates you the most to do it? “I wanted to do something to make a difference. My friends join the military during high school. They were killed overseas, and I wanted to do something to honor their sacrifice. Honestly, what motivates me the most, are the days when I help people. That’s what keeps me doing it.

How many years have you been working as a police officer? For how long in this position? “At the end of January it will be five years. I’ve being in the same position, in patrol, the whole time.

What services do you offer to your community? “Most of the time, I’m answering calls from 911 about traffic accidents, robberies, burglaries, and other crimes. The rest of the time, I’m patrolling the streets to keep them safe.”

As a leader of your community, what are the most important decisions you make? “Finding out about somebody who committed a crime. Making hard decisions to know who did it, find out what happen, if the person really did it, and take the decision to hold them accountable.”

Can you explain briefly the impact that you and your coworkers have in our school-community? “I work at night shift. So, at that time to make sure people don’t break in school and stop the vandalizing (if any). In the mornings, I keep order with traffic, making everything as organized as possible. In matters of schools communities, I work patrolling Dallas Independent Schools Districts.

As a leader, how do you empower the community members to be good leaders? “Lead by example. When I’m on duty or off duty, I’m always following laws. We have to be the example for other people – every time.

What would you do if a citizen puts the school community at risk by making racist, hating, or improper comments/actions? “It depends on the severity of the issue. Sometimes, people might need to be educated and they don’t realize that they are damaging something or others.”

What is the biggest challenge, if any, of facing the community today? “I work night shift, so it is different. In this area, I worked with a lot of stolen cars. I have to find out what happened, who did it, and once I find them, I can hold them accountable – which for us means -put them in jail.”

In your opinion,

What are the strengths of the community? ‘’Look out for one another, follow suspicious persons. People around here are always willing to help us. They call 911 and keep us updated.’’

What are the areas to improve? “Increase the level of alertness to what goes on around them.”

What would be your ideal community environment, and how would you encourage that kind of culture? “My ideal community is one with no crime. To encourage people to talk to each other, be more alert. People don’t take actions, they say “this kid is just acting up”, they don’t put a stop to it.”

From 1-10, how would you rate yourself as a police officer? Explain briefly. “I’ll probably say a 9. I attribute that to my record. I have received several accommodations. I enjoy my job. I have no complaints about my job. I try to do my best every day.”

In conclusion, it is evident that Ms. Webb is a community leader, because besides being the principal. She gives the greatest care and support to each student. Also, she is intensely focused on providing the best learning environment and opportunity for all of EGP’s students. At the same time, police officers are also great community leaders, because they risk their lives to keep us safe. They also help the school community develop good citizens by offering lessons about bullying, Internet safety, etc. They provide a healthy and safe learning environment for all student and teachers.  I wanted to see if they had some things in common, and they do. They provide a safe learning environment. I chose to interview them because they are awesome leaders in our community, and I hope my readers can get to know them better as they continue to serve our school.