Thursday, June 26, 2008
County leaders graduate
By SUE WATSON
A bubbly class of 16 leaders received certificates Thursday, the fourth class of Leadership Marshall to enjoy a great learning experience.
Terry Morrison led the class in the Pledge of Allegiance in graduation ceremonies after commenting on his attire. Humor is Morrison’s trademark.
“I’d like my classmates to see an unusual sight,” he said. “I don’t usually wear a suit and tie. You should wear a tie when going before a judge. I never went before a judge, but was caught hunting rabbits at night as a kid. The other times you should wear a tie are in church and at a public gathering.
“I am thankful for this great privilege we have to live in this county, this state and this nation and that our local leaders remain strong and wise.”
County administrator Larry Hall commented on the class’s choice to open the last meeting with the Pledge and with prayer, as customarily done by local governments.
“I haven’t had time to help this class as much this year,” he said, before giving some history of how the class originated. “But if gas prices keep rising, I think we are all going to slow down.”
Leadership Marshall is an outgrowth of the county’s strategic plan.
Hall said about 75 attended the first day, then 35 were at the next meeting and attendance tapered off to about 12 before picking back up and leveling off.
“It was a trying time of heated discussions but out of it a lot of bonds were made,” he said.
Hall, Sarah Sawyer and Andre’ DeBerry and others had attended a leadership class in Jackson prior to the completion of the strategic plan. They suggested a class be offered to Marshall Countians, starting the first year with mostly elected officials.
Like the strategic planning process, leadership classes start with identifying the county’s privately and publicly owned assets.
The strategic plan identified people as the county’s greatest asset as does the Leadership Marshall project, he said.
Benefits to leadership training most often cited by class members is the increased awareness of what is in the county. The first class or two toured the county on graduation day, but this year and last year, the first class began early with a tour of the county.
Another benefit cited frequently is that the class introduces each member to new friends and helps others who already know each other to get better acquainted. Newcomers get a chance to meet people and learn about the county as well as themselves personally and their own style of leadership.
In October, Marshall County will receive an award for its strategic plan at the meeting of the National Association of Development Organizations in Anchorage, Alaska.
“These classes are the things that have made our strategic plan successful,” Hall said. “It has taken the hard work of Sarah Sawyer and Janet Jolley, who have kept their noses to the grindstone.
“In our tours of the county you learn about so many hidden treasures you had no idea existed. I challenge you and ask you to get involved in public and civic activities. Everyone has ideas and they are not all bad.
“I learned in leadership class that if no one says anything, you think you are doing everything right - but that’s not always the case.
“I commend you for dedicating your time to go through this class.”
Sawyer praised Hall for helping keep Leadership Marshall alive.
“If we need supplies, he knows who to call,” she said. “And I thank Janet for taking care of the details and Doris Lee for helping.”
She also recognized Amy Heaton, executive director of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce, who helped with class organization and then joined the class mid-session.
“This has been a great class - a smaller class of 16 - and an enjoyable group,” Sawyer said. “Y’all were good.”
Each year something new is added to the class offerings and something is taken out. This keeps the class fresh and alive, especially for former graduates who come in and share teaching responsibilities or offer testimonials.
Sawyer said Leadership Marshall wants to find a way for teachers and school administrators to get time off to attend classes. She said finding the next class depends on word of mouth as well as the support of employers who are willing to give workers time off to attend.
Jolley asked for a show of hands of prior graduates and community supporters. Five former graduates were present at this year’s graduation ceremony, two elected officials, three members of the Holly Springs Chamber board of directors and two from the board of the Byhalia Chamber of Commerce.
“Class of 2008, we want to give you an opportunity to make one statement of what you have learned or gained,” Jolley said.
One by one they stepped up to the microphone.
“Meeting new people and seeing different locations,” said Steven Smith.
Mille Smith, principal at Holy Family School, spoke of her deep desire to relocate in Holly Springs.
“I am so ready to move down here,” she said. “Thank you for that tour. There are so many places of peace and tranquility. This class is composed of a diverse background. Thank you for making education the top priority of this class.”
Connie Mason, deputy city clerk at Holly Springs, liked meeting new people and hearing new ideas best.
“I think I made an A,” she quipped.
Holly Springs’ city clerk, Belinda McDonald liked meeting new friends.
“If you need me, I am at city hall,” she said.
Sarah Kinkade, with Champion Awards and daughter of Byhalia Chamber president Bill Kinkade, admitted she was nervous at first, having been pressured to take the class by her dad, but she loved it after getting used to new people.
Drawing a laugh, Susan Campbell, deputy tax collector said, “I was told to come.”
Jim Sanderlin’s claim to a quiet and reserved personality got laughs.
“I had a great time and the speakers were informative,” he said. “I encourage everyone to help recruit the class of 2009.”
Pearlie Estes enjoyed learning more about the county.
“There are a lot of treasures in Marshall County, but the best treasures have been the people I have met and friends I have enjoyed,” she said.
Irma Jones found renewed interests.
“It was absolutely wonderful and made me pay more attention to what I do and say, knowing I am supposed to be a leader,” she said.
“It has given me that push to do something new,” Jones said. “I am now a flight attendant with American Airlines.”
“The class has helped me learn how to meet people and manage better at work,” said Cheri Page.
Stephanie Movre, tourism director for the city of Holly Springs, was also pushed outside her comfort zone.
“I’ve been a reluctant leader for a long time,” she said. “It is something I really wanted but have struggled with.”
The class was an excuse to “get out into Red Banks and Potts Camp,” she said.
Janice Wagg, already active in Byhalia at the chamber of commerce, with the Byhalia Sports Association and elsewhere, had not been able to take off time from her job at Carrier.
“I’ve always known Marshall County is a treasure, but found some more places and networking,” she said. “Thank you, Sarah, for keeping after me to attend the class.”
Chaundra Wright learned that “leadership doesn’t happen overnight.”
“It’s built upon is the best thing I learned. The people I met are special,” she said.
Bob Pickard learned about the county “and myself,” he said. “And I made a lot of good friends.”
Eric Randle liked the county tour.
Morrison was last up.
“When I was initially introduced, I told my classmates I was always getting introduced as Anna’s husband. I’m Terry Morrison and this is my wife, Anna,” he said, drawing laughs from graduates.
Morrison’s favorite activities were touring the county and the lecture on the economy of Marshall County.
“Thank you for the class,” he said. “It’s been wonderful.”
Dr. Jim Biedenharn spoke to the class on the topic “Leadership in Changing Times.” Parts of his speech will be published next week in The South Reporter.
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