Brian Sabo

Brian Sabo teaches his leadership class at Eastwood High School. 

PEMBERVILLE – At Eastwood High School, the hope is that life lessons learned by students will be used in school, the workplace and after graduation.

The first class for future leaders has concluded, and the students appreciate what they have learned.

Senior Ross Beaverson said that the leadership class made him a better person.

“I still care about everyone else, but I’m more focused on trying to make myself better than trying to change other people,” he said.

That positive energy is affecting people around him, Beaverson added.

The class was developed by Brian Sabo, who researched leadership and approached both the middle school and high school principals a few years ago to teach a class.

“Not that I feel like I’m an expert, but maybe there’s something different,” he has to share.

Sabo’s plan was to teach students how they could lead others. But it morphed into how they could lead themselves.

“I have gotten so much out of it. … We have to teach the kids these skills, versus just expect them to know it or observe,” he said.

Superintendent Brent Welker hopes the class will build what is now a strong team captains training program, which has 20-25 students.

Some but not all the students in the class were athletes. It has been nice to see those who are working apply what they’ve learned in the class when they are on the job, “which is incredibly important,” Welker said.

Leadership development and personal growth go hand in hand, he said.

Sabo used TedTalks, guest speakers, social media and books. He said that certain people and certain messages will grab certain kids.

His hope is for less judgment among students.

Welker spoke to the class four times.

“To watch their growth has been pretty cool,” he said.

The credit class had 18 sophomores, juniors and seniors and met daily from August to Jan. 16. The second-semester class has 20 students.

“Kids don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care,” Sabo said.

“You cannot lead people if you can’t make a connection with them,” Welker said. “To do what is right is all about character.”

Alex Ward, a senior, said if you stay positive in life you will achieve more.

“Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from,” said senior Dylan Brogan.

“You guys live in a world where criticism is around you 24/7,” Welker said in appreciation of that statement.

Criticisms can be found online through social media, Twitter and Instagram.

“If there is negativity, you can find it wherever you go. But there is also a lot of positive out there too. You will find what you seek,” Welker said.

It takes so little effort to lift someone else up, he said.

“Don’t make the same mistake twice,” was Sabo’s advice.

Sophomore Emilia D’Amore suggested staying positive “because life is going to throw stuff at you.”

“Never settle. Always work to improve yourself. You can’t reach a point and settle, because then, guess what, you’re not doing your best,” Beaverson said.

Junior Madison Adray hoped the class would make her a better leader.

“It’s taught be to be more open and not worry about what other people are thinking about me, just do me and lead others through my own example and lead with a positive energy.”

Students agreed that the class has taught them strategies on how to deal with their struggles and they can accomplish more by working together.

Brogan said he has developed more self-evaluation. He finds himself writing notes to himself about where he thinks he is lacking and what he could improve on.”

Sabo has taught physical education at Eastwood for 20 years and has coached for 22 years.

He started this program last year at the middle school but is pleased with the high school class, saying he thinks they will be more likely to apply what they learn.

“I hope they have and applied action steps … hopefully we’ve given them skills, positive outlets for any stress and realizing they aren’t alone compared to everyone else who has the same issues … and realizing they don’t have to have everything figured out at 17 or 18. It’s OK.”