Bridging the Gap – Viking Leadership Academy Hosts Dr. Brandon Orr

Posted on 11/27/2017
Bridging the Gap – Viking Leadership Academy Hosts Dr. Brandon Orr

We all want our kids to be great students and athletes, and it is hard to be both. But there is a trait that connects the classroom and the field of play – leadership. At Francis Howell High School, the Viking Leadership Academy is what bridges that gap. VLA develops lifelong leadership skills in students to make the FHSD community an even better place for all. Most recently, VLA hosted the first of several guest speakers who will visit during 2017-18 school year, Dr. Brandon Orr, Director of the Positive Coaching and Sports Psychology at the University of Missouri.

Dr. Orr has consulted for numerous collegiate athletic departments, including Mizzou Wrestling and Men’s Basketball. While his main focus is on high performance with athletes in several sports, from football to track and field, his expertise is not limited to just college sports. He has also consulted with individuals from the National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, and Ultimate Fighting Championship. Dr. Orr has even helped inspire and develop leadership in members of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a Special Forces component of the United States Military.

Dr. Orr’s message to "be uncommon" was a spark for the students in VLA. The emphasis of his presentation was to be a leader – not just for yourself, but also by "bringing others along with you." Students were asked to think about who benefits from their leadership, and how they could make others around them great.

“It’s trying to deliver a message to them that isn’t from (a bookstore),” Dr. Orr said. “One that isn’t cached, put on a loop, and ‘rinse and repeat.’ It’s about each of these students having an individual responsibility in the culture they are trying to build here. That’s not always easy to do; and because it’s the hard thing, it’s what we should do.”

FHHS student Blake Johnson said, “I learned that being a leader can be hard at times, but you have to stick with it.” And that was the lesson Dr. Orr wanted to share, that excellence starts with these individuals first. That no matter what challenges they encounter, they’ll do the right thing for the right reasons.

However, it doesn’t take a life-changing decision to be a leader, as Johnson took away from the speech. The little things we can do every day are equally important, and VLA – and the speakers they will have this year – are an outstanding guide for students. “I feel like VLA will help everyone out if we all just lead and help a little bit at a time,” Johnson said.

Dr. Orr was amazed at what VLA is trying to accomplish. “To look out across this room,” he said, “and see that everyone is here on a volunteer basis because they themselves have a desire to get better – that self-motivation piece is impressive. That’s pretty cool.”

The Viking Leadership Academy (VLA) meets twice a month during Howell Time and focuses on a curriculum based leadership development program. The goal is to make Howell an even better place for all students and to develop lifelong leadership skills that will resonate beyond high school.

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