On Thursday, the Leadership Elective course for Fork Union Military Academy's 2023 Summer School Session hosted a special guest for both morning and afternoon classes. Dr. Alton Terry invited the Academy's President Colonel David Coggins USMC (Ret.) to teach a special interactive leadership lesson.
Colonel Coggins briefly shared his educational background and his esteemed 30-year service as a Marine Corps officer. He kicked off the session asking the students to draw what they believed leadership looked like. Armed with pens and given five minutes, the students enthusiastically immersed themselves in the task, accompanied by our esteemed faculty members—the Dean, the Chief of Staff, his Deputy, the CFO, and the Director of Advancement—making for a truly engaging exercise.
When time was up, each student was invited to stand, introduce themselves, and present their drawing along with the reason behind their artistic choices. The artworks varied from depictions of fathers as great examples of leadership to scenes from nature, including geese flying in formation and a wolf leading its cubs. One heartwarming drawing showcased Batman's act of assistance to someone in need, symbolizing the essence of a heroic leader. In an inspiring moment, a student portrayed a wooden cross, recognizing Jesus as the ultimate exemplar of leadership, citing John 3:16 from the Bible as a profound testament to the sacrifice made for humanity.
Next, the students were asked to define leadership in one sentence. Several similar responses surfaced, emphasizing the vital relationship between a leader and their followers. One student remarked that a good leader might possess strength, intelligence, and bravery, yet humility and a harmonious blend of qualities are equally crucial. Another student eloquently stated that leadership is both an art and a science. Understanding the mission at hand and the technicalities to achieve it, while also knowing how to inspire and influence team members, are key aspects of effective leadership.
The exercise concluded with students having one minute to jot down one word that encapsulated their personal leadership approach. Notably, words like relationships, perseverance, persistence, example, and humility emerged repeatedly.
"It was heartening to witness everyone actively participating in a polite and respectful manner, demonstrating a high level of learning, comprehension, and retention based on Bloom's Taxonomy. In a remarkable display of leadership, we delved into Sun Tzu's The Art of War, a 6,000-year-old demonstration and practical exercise, to end the class. I randomly selected a student, without any prior training and whispered commands for him to promptly repeat them as direct orders to his peers. This exercise underscored the importance of precision and execution in leadership. Subsequently, we engaged in a spirited game of "Simon Says," which further reinforced the significance of attentiveness, comprehension, and willingness to follow.
"In just 45 minutes, we embarked on a profound journey of learning about leadership. At Fork Union Military Academy, we place a strong emphasis on leadership, and this session exemplified our commitment to nurturing our cadets as future leaders. Leaders at FUMA exemplify care, set the right example, and above all, lead with purpose.
"Thank you for entrusting us with the education and growth of your sons. We are dedicated to providing them with a well-rounded, enriching experience that fosters the development of strong, capable leaders," said Colonel Coggins.