Clermont Northeastern High School junior Ivy Stephan had trouble answering a question about times she has shown leadership at the school, but her teachers recognize that quality. That’s why two of them nominated her to attend the West Point Society of Greater Cincinnati’s Leadership and Ethic Seminar in February in Springdale. Social studies teachers Steve Thompson and Michael Tabor, both military veterans and Purple Heart recipients, nominated Stephan for the seminar, and Thompson attended with her. She was one of about 400 students who participated.
Though a member of a different branch, the Marines, Thompson also took part in the West Point Society event.
“Basically it was all West Point graduates. There were a couple general officers, there were some brigadier generals, there was lieutenant colonels and colonels, but there’s also former alumni that are now in CEO, CFO, certain positions around the Greater Cincinnati area,” Thompson said.
Topics included leadership challenges unique to schools as well as to the 21st century, including remote meeting and learning.
“What does leadership look like when … you’re looking at a bunch of Zoom calls? What does leadership look like when you have … no accountability of anybody in office, because they’re all at home? What are the leadership qualities that you look for when you want to hire someone, stuff like that,” Thompson said. “What’s the wave of the future? One of the big things they focused on was artificial intelligence. What’s that going to look like when there’s a person and a robot?”
Stephan leads by participation in school activities at Clermont Northeastern. She was inducted into the National Honor Society in December, is a member of the Leo Club – a junior version of the Lions Club – and the girls wrestling team, and competed on the track and field team last year. She is also a volunteer firefighter cadet for the Jackson Township department and a member of 4H.
“I think everything offered here at the school, I think she does. Everything that girl does, she exceeds at and it’s incredible,” Thompson said.
The junior, who hopes to attend West Point and perhaps join the CIA – she’s uncertain about that – described the West Point Society event as “really cool.”
“My biggest takeaway was we really went over our values and we wrote down like our biggest values, and I thought that was really important because every decision that you make, they revolve around what you value and I thought that was really important because every leader uses their values to lead,” Stephan said.
She described leadership as “stepping up and trying to help everyone around you. Leadership is seeing the world for something bigger than just yourself and helping others.” How is she a leader? She paused a bit.
“I would say, honestly, just the little things like helping someone with a math paper, really just helping people in the little ways, that the little things matter to be a leader, because then people they build respect, and respect is what makes a leader.”