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Naval Academy Mids Mentor Middle School Girls

Posted on: July 22, 2014 08:00 EDT by Jessica Clark

Two midshipmen had a unique opportunity to apply the leadership skills they’ve been taught as part of the U.S. Naval Academy curriculum while giving back to a community in need.

Midshipmen 1st Class Paige Rutkoske and Alyssa Randell spent nearly three weeks at the Sisters Academy in Asbury Park, N.J., teaching and mentoring sixth-grade girls.

Sisters Academy is a program of Mercy Center dedicated to educating girls in an academically challenging and disciplined learning environment. The goal of the program is to provide girls from economically challenged families access to private high school and college education.

A Naval Academy alumnus contacted the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association to see if he could get midshipmen to come to the school to help mentor the students and "provide role models that they're not seeing in their everyday lives," said Lt. Erica Reid-Dixon of the academy’s Leadership, Development and Research Department.

With the guidance of Naval Academy faculty and staff, the midshipmen developed a lesson plan that encompassed science, technology, engineering and mathematics projects as well as leadership instruction in which the students learned about group dynamics, communication and team building.

Each day, the midshipmen were required to reflect on how the experience helped shape their own leadership development and report to Reid-Dixon on their progress toward the goals they defined prior to the trip to New Jersey.

“I learned how to take control and get others to follow my instructions while keeping them engaged,” said Rutkoske. “I learned a lot about my leadership style and how I work with others.”

The midshipmen also had goals for how they wanted to directly impact the students.

“I wanted to see the students think outside the box on ways to reach a solution or think about a problem,” said Rutkoske. “They all met and exceeded my expectations.”

“The Sisters Academy students have succeeded in so many ways, despite the disadvantages of their backgrounds, and a lot of that has to do with the leadership of the school. Now the midshipmen are part of that process,” said Reid-Dixon.

Rutkoske hopes the program will continue to be an option for midshipmen summer training.

“It has been a valuable aspect of development in becoming a more successful leader. It helped with time management, working on the fly, rolling with the punches and tailoring how I wanted to teach someone based on their personality,” she said. “I would definitely recommend this program to other midshipmen.”

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