Joe Harrmann, in his eighth year as a teacher at Versailles High School (VHS), started teaching Teen Leadership seven years ago when it became available on the curriculum.
“Teen Leadership is part of the Teen Leadership Corps Course that has been offered at schools around the state (mostly in the Sandusky Area and northeast portion of the state),” Harrmann said. “It has been growing over the past few years and more and more schools are offering the course which was started by Mary Ann Creamer.” (website: https://teenleadershipcorps.org/)
There are 17 juniors and seniors in his class.
“However, we reach countless students every day by doing service based learning and designing projects that impact the school and community in positive ways,” he said.
“Juniors and seniors are eligible to take the class but all grade levels can be impacted by the projects and the work of the students in the class.”
Harrmann said the purpose of the program is to provide opportunities to students to learn about making positive impacts within the school and community. Students, according to him, take part in a variety of activities during the class to promote: Service learning, kindness, respect, team building, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and rebounding/learning from failure.
“Students have the opportunity to design service learning opportunities and make positive impacts on several different groups of people within the community, state, country, and world,” he said. “Students are encouraged daily.”
Are the students doing well in this kind of curriculum?
“Absolutely,” he said emphatically. “This is the seventh year we have been offering the class and every year the students amaze me with their ideas and the things they want to do in class as well as within the school/community. They love the idea of helping others and being role models within the school and community. Some of the students have a tough time getting out of their comfort zone since they haven’t done many of the things we do within the class, but, by the middle of the year, they are enjoying the activities, the lessons, and the opportunity to give back.”
Is he seeing improvements in the students?
“It’s hard for me to gauge how well they take the things learned into the next phase of their life since the majority of them are seniors,” Harrman replied. “However, I do talk to some of the alumni who have taken the class and they always bring up good memories and lessons learned. There have even been some students who have gone on to pursue service/mission work due to the success they had in the class. Overall, I think the students have success in the class because they enjoy something a little different and their eyes are opened to the world around them and they see all the different ways they can make a positive impact on the world.”
His focus as an educator, he said, is “Getting each student to be a better version of themselves, one small step at a time. Some students have huge transformations over the course of the class. Others change just a small amount. The overall goal is to get students recognizing all the opportunities that surround them in regards to being a leader and then acting upon those opportunities. If we can get each student better in some way, we are doing a great thing for the student, the school, the community, and ultimately, the world. Let’s face it, each one of these students will interact with hundreds, if not thousands, of other people in the next five years. If they serve, are selfless, and act upon opportunities that are presented to them in regards to leadership and making others better they will do fantastic things for our society.”
In addition to Leadership, he teaches or has taught in the past: accounting, entrepreneurship, multimedia, publications, and computer applications.
Originally from Cincinnati, he graduated in 2002 from Archbishop Mcnicholas High School and went on to graduate from University of Dayton with bachelor’s degree in 2006 and obtained a master’s degree from Concordia University.
“I have been married to my wife, Kylee, for 10 years,” he said. “She is a school psychologist in Piqua City Schools. We have three kids and enjoy doing anything family-related, watching Cincinnati professional sports, Michigan Wolverine sports, golfing and coaching.”
Yes, he is fulfilling his dream.
“I am thrilled to be where I am and I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoy my job and what I get to do on a daily basis,” he said. “The students, community, and staff at Versailles are incredible. Having a chance to make a positive impact every day is extremely rewarding and fulfilling.”