Since 2011, Sam Presti’s Forward Thinking Leadership program has bolstered the leadership skills of more than 500 local students. Designed to help students identify their strengths and find their voice as leaders, the program culminates each year with a leadership summit presented by Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder executive vice president and general manager.
Star Spencer Mid-High School will become the fourth Oklahoma City Public School to join the program this year, along with OK Centennial High School, U.S. Grant High School and John Marshall High School.
“We identified students that have leadership potential and strive to develop their skills,” said H. Charmaine Johnson, principal at Star Spencer Mid-High School, explaining how students were selected to participate.
Also new in 2020, the program is partnering with the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center to provide sessions on learned optimism, gratitude and identifying and leveraging character strengths. Dr. Sean McDaniel, OKCPS superintendent, says the amplified programming is in line with EmbraceOKC, a collaborative initiative focused on mental health between OKCPS and other local partners. EmbraceOKC strives to embrace mental health as preventable and treatable, achieve social and emotional wellbeing for students and their families and hold schools as a sanctuary of support.
“Adding the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center into the program this year comes at a critical time when resilience and optimism are so important for our students,”