OXFORD, Miss. — Just a few months after taking office, the new mayor of Oxford is working on a priority that pre-dates her election: launching a leadership program for fifth-grade girls.
Mayor Robyn Tannehill said she hopes applications will go out in January for girls to enroll in the leadership class at Oxford Intermediate School. She said the idea came to her before she was elected in June for a program for girls who haven’t been identified “as strong leaders, because maybe they’re just not quite bold enough at that age to step forward.”
“This program is not about who has the highest scores,” Tannehill told The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal . “I want this class to look the way the real world looks and for us to learn to respect each other and talk through issues and identify what a leader looks like. You’re only a leader if you turn around and there is someone behind you.”
Tannehill is planning a 10-week program for as many as 15 girls who would meet during school hours. The mayor said she would attend the weekly meetings, which would also feature guest speakers from the community.
Tannehill and her assistant, Cindy Semmes, got to work on the program shortly after the election. They reached out to Amy Tate, an assistant to a former Tupelo mayor who had started a similar leadership program in Tupelo, for advice on how they might proceed in Oxford.
The mayor said she wants the program to teach girls how to improve their listening and debate skills, as well as how to have a conversation — rather than an argument — with someone with opposing views. She also hopes the program can end with a trip to Jackson so the girls could visit the state Capitol when the Mississippi Legislature is in session.
“My parents always told me I could do anything in the world I wanted to do,” Tannehill said. “I was crazy enough to believe them. However, a lot of people haven’t been given that same message. I think it’s important for to give that message to young people across the board.”
Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com