Leadership Academy Students

  • “We grew closer together as a group creating a group chat, and we learned more about disabilities.”
  • “I learned so much about how to manage anxiety and learned strategies I never thought of before.”
  • “Today was a good day. It felt really good to give back to people and animals that need it most. It is also nice to know that there are people out there that care for us and want the best for us.”

The quotes above are from the Special Education Foundation’s 2022 Class of the Fred Saigh Leadership Academy, taken from their numerous experiences throughout the past academic year. 

The Academy meets monthly throughout the academic year, covering a wide range of topics and activities designed to help students foster and develop their leadership skills.

FSLA Participant Jeramel Meeks
FSLA Participant Jeramel Meeks

One of the students participating in the 2021-22 academy was Jeramel Meeks, who graduated in May from Hazelwood Central High School. Jeramel learned about the Leadership Academy from Mary Cavanaugh, one of his teachers at Hazelwood Central. He was initially scheduled to be part of the class during his junior year, but COVID postponed his participation by a year.

Nonetheless, Jeramel described how beneficial this program was to him by giving him first-hand experience of how leaders work with others in different ways, particularly with the diversity within his class.

He found it inspiring to work alongside his Leadership classmates and how they all worked to overcome challenges and worked together within the group. Jeramel also saw the opportunity to visit places like Boeing and the State Capital in Jefferson City as terrific experiences that will help him prepare for college and beyond.

Jeramel will attend St. Louis Community College this fall, where he plans to complete his general studies courses and then transfer to Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Jeramel has loved fishing and sealife his entire life and is looking to major in Marine Biology coupled with Youth Ministry in this post-high school plan.

One of the most significant benefits that Jeramel found in his year in the Leadership Academy was the friendships developed during the year. His closest friends were Jeremy Gipson from Ladue Horton Watkins High School and Tahtyona Hardin from Hancock High School. The team-building activities that the students participate in during the various session will often serve as opportunities to build lifelong friendships.

CJ Audubon Award Winner Richie Tienter
C.J. Audubon Award Winner Richie Tienter

The 2022 Fred Saigh Leadership Academy class held its graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 4, at the Special School District Administration Building. As part of the ceremony, this year’s class presented the C.J. Aubuchon Award to Richie Tienter from Marquette High School. This link includes the complete list of participants in this year’s class.

The 2023 Fred Saigh Leadership Academy, our 18th year of the program, will hold its first session next month with another talented group of future leaders under the tutelage of Debbie Smith.