iEducate Delaware: Supporting College and Career Skills

April 24th, 2013

Category: News

On May 1st, we will begin accepting nominations for iEducate Delaware, an initiative to uncover and share the amazing stories of education leaders across the state. In the days leading up to launch we will be posting snapshots of last year’s honorees, and what they’ve been up to since last fall (click here for previous blogs). Rodel invested $2,000 in each of these honorees’ projects to support their work.

Margaret O’Dwyer, one of our inaugural iEducate Delaware honorees, founded the Delaware Youth Leadership Network (DYLN). Heidi Kalloo, a student at Cab Calloway School of the Arts and part of the first cohort to participate in DYLN, shares:

He was a young guy, white, upper middle class, the regular profile. He walked into the barn on forearm crutches, a beautiful girl at his side. They mingled around, chatting with the Strines and the mentors. Mrs. O’Dwyer rang her bell, and everyone condensed, grabbing seats fireside. The big leather chair in the corner was left open; the young man seated, lifting his legs to adjust them. His girlfriend of three years gave his introduction and then he told us his tale. As he spoke about his childhood, (his easygoing idea to join the army, ROTC life, choosing an infantry position) his voice reverberated over the high wooden walls, the waves of sound completely uninterrupted. Commander Dan shipped off to Afghanistan in charge of a squadron of men, some twice his age and some still kids. He gave a description of entering a town so soundless, you knew something was up, gunfire around the corner. The listeners tensed, ready for the quiet Centerville hideaway to fill with infidel chants and machine guns at any moment. He described in haunting detail his journey across a bridge at night on a mission to help another troop in trouble. The young man carrying the radio took the step that set off the bomb; he was never seen again except in the small pieces of flesh that showered down. The explosion took both of the speaker’s legs, above the knee cap. He is one of two in the world able to walk with this injury.

The most striking aspect of this presentation left upon the minds of twenty ambitious young Delaware teens was his elocution, familiar to us all as a marker of youth. He explained his history in simple words, remarking on small details, making his story come alive. Listening to this man speak for a couple of hours is an experience that none of those present will ever forget.

What DYLN gives its Scholars is an invaluable gift. With each meeting, they hear about the lives of others, tales guaranteed extraordinary as they offer these young people the chance to live tens of careers before they take an SAT. Mrs. O’Dwyer and Mr. Strine allow us the chance to sit and listen, with the expectation that we are not merely listening but silently working hard thinking of questions to ask or connections to make to our own lives.

The skills learned through DYLN are those that take decades to perfect: public speaking, active listening, etiquette, networking, etc. We are given an edge over the typical Delaware high school student because such striking introduction to these skills allow us to consciously develop them years before the competition, or maybe we pass them on to our friends and the domino effect begins.

Does DYLN really create Delaware leaders? We may not know for years to come, but keep your eye on these kids; they’re on their way to high places.

From Margaret:

Founded in January 2012, the mission of the Delaware Youth Leadership Network is to inspire, motivate and develop young Delawareans to become our leaders for tomorrow. With 27 students from 19 different high schools in New Castle County, we launched our program in August 2012. Our focus is to create an opportunity for high school students in Delaware to see their potential as emerging leaders. The ten month program provides exposure to inspirational speakers and mentors who offer different perspectives of leadership, development of key life skills such as public speaking and communication, and the creation of a network of young leaders across Delaware. The enthusiasm and engagement of the DYLN Scholars in our program clearly speaks to the power of bringing together a diverse group of motivated, inspired students. We look forward to celebrating the graduation of the DYLN Scholars of the Class of 2013 on May 1, 2013.

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Rodel Foundation of Delaware



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