Reimagining Youth Leadership

speakers in the Siegfried Group's SYLP program

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Siegfried Group had to reimagine the delivery of its very popular Siegfried Youth Leadership Program (SYLP)®, a high-energy leadership program historically offered to Delaware students and teachers in grades 8 through 12 during a one-day seminar at the University of Delaware.

Siegfried collaborated with the UD’s Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) and  Junior Achievement of Delaware to offer the first-ever SYLP® Teacher Leadership Advisory and Virtual Best Practices session, a training program for teachers to empower them to seamlessly incorporate elements of the SYLP® into their classroom curriculum. Eighteen teachers from 12 different Delaware schools registered for the session. To guide their students effectively through the leadership coursework, the teachers participated in the exercises and personally experienced leadership advisory.

“It’s been a tough year, I know the hard work you are doing, I know how crazy your world is, and we thank you,” said Carlos Asarta, professor of economics and director of the CEEE, in welcoming the participating teachers. “I do believe this program will be a wonderful substitute for the in person program. The new digital format will give you the flexibility you need to plug the program into a format that will work best for you.”

The virtual SYLP® continues to address youth leadership topics including individual leadership, character ethic, mindsets, areas of concern, influence, and control and gratitude. It features a three-part video series, hosts a high-energy motivational speaker and incorporates not only speaking presentations but also related activities and lessons that teachers can use to further engage students who are learning either online or in-school.

According to the Siegfried Group, “living in a time of uncertainty, everyone, including our youth, can feel a sense of disconnection, have low spirits, or face special challenges. Social distancing and being frustrated over not seeing friends and going about their lives as normal can be difficult. SYLP® takes a look at mindsets and the sense of leading your own life – in good times and in trying times. This program will share resources on how to paint your picture positively with possibility.”

“I think over the four years, SYLP® has hosted about 3,000 students and teachers from all over Delaware, even some into Maryland, which is quite remarkable,” said Karen Campbell, vice president of special projects at the Siegfried Group.

“What today is about is helping each of you as teachers bring this program to life in your classroom,” Campbell continued. “This approach actually is very powerful because, as teachers, you play such a key role in your students’ lives. Unlike the live event, where there’s a big stage and audience, you’re going to be able to bring this program right to where your students are, helping them grow as leaders.”

SYLP®, created by Lerner alumnus Rob Siegfried ’81 and founder and CEO of the Siegfried Group, is designed to “help young people build individual leadership, enabling them to enrich their personal and professional lives, now and in their future.”

Siegfried employees Kevin Keegan, senior vice president and regional market leader, Amy Devlin, vice president, and Brendah Walyemwa, acting director of employee engagement, inclusion and advancement, led the virtual training session and are featured in SYLP®-produced materials.

“You’re the leaders of the classroom,” said Keegan to the participating teachers. “But to be a leader and to get others to open up, you’ll probably have to open up a little bit, too.

“You’ll probably have to share a little bit in these exercises. I think if you open up, it’s going to get the students to do the same. They get to know you and you all get to know each other.”

Delaware teachers are among the many skilled professionals across the nation whose work has been greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, school districts across the state have had to adjust quickly to offer a range of online, hybrid and in person classes, challenging teachers to look for new and innovative ways to engage their students.

The virtual SYLP® provides teachers with an instruction guide that gives them the flexibility of teaching the program in a format that can be fit into any 2 to 3 week period. The inspiring keynote for the winter session is Juan Bendana, renowned speaker, author, DJ and the founder of the 100 Day Playbook.

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