Madeline is pictured with the teacher who nominated her, Jill Glass.
Madeline is pictured with the teacher who nominated her, Jill Glass.

COLUMBUS GROVE - Madeline Flores, an eighth grader at Columbus Grove Schools, was recently nominated to attend the National Young Leaders State Conference (NYLSC) in Columbus. Flores, the daughter of Rachael and Todd Hermiller, of Columbus Grove, and Robert Flores, of Bluffton, has shown exceptional leadership potential which is why she was nominated to attend NYLSC.

NYLSC is a unique four-day conference being held in 30 cities across the country. The events help young scholars take an introspective and highly-personalized assessment of their leadership skills and abilities.

Flores and her parents were surprised to find out she was chosen to go to this conference. "We'd never heard of it before and when we asked the teacher that nominated her if there was another student who has went, she said no," said Rachael Hermiller. As far as Hermiller knew, Flores is the only student from Putnam County who attended the conference.

"The steps each person takes in discovering his or her own leadership strengths can be a very personal process," said Marguerite Regan, Ph. D., Dean of Academic Affairs for the Congressional Youth Leadership Council (CYLC), the organization that sponsors NYLSC. CYLC is a nonpartisan educational organization. Founded in 1985, CYLC is committed to fostering and inspiring young people to achieve their full leadership potential.

Students must be nominated by a teacher or mentor to attend this conference. Flores was nominated by her seventh grade teacher at Columbus Grove, Jill Glass. "The reasons I nominated Madeline for this conference are numerous. She is an outstanding student who strives to go above and beyond what is expected of her in the classroom. She excels in her academics and she is a positive role model among her peers," said Glass.

Glass shared she felt Flores possesses traits of a true leader, including, "her willingness to voice her opinion without being intimidated by others is a trait I feel true leaders possess, and Madeline definitely does. She is an attentive listener as well as a good decision maker. I feel she tries to look at all the angles before she makes any final decisions. Her knowledge, as well as her caring personality, will be positive assets in any occupation she chooses."

Flores attended the conference March 7 - 10. The event focused on working with the kids and building a "tool kit" of strategies to help them successfully dream, create and implement plans that will change how they view their roles as leaders in their communities.

According to Flores, she learned about new techniques she believes will contribute to her future.

"I learned a lot. I can use what I learned for my future and some of the things will be easier for me like public speaking," said Flores. She admitted speaking in front of large groups is something she would like to work on. The conference allowed her to take that step in preparing herself for future situations and help reach her goal to become better at public speaking.

The conference was broken up into workshops and each day the participants were put into groups. These groups would attend different workshops focusing on techniques. They also had a faculty advisor to help them through the process. Flores learned leadership techniques like SMART goals, which is a way to create goals that are specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic and timely. Flores shared her favorite skill she learned was called the gift of feedback. "We learned a way to give feedback in a positive way instead of just saying something is good or bad," she said.

Overall Flores shared she enjoyed her experience at the conference, "I learned about leadership skills I actually had but never expressed," she said. The leadership conference is not only offered statewide, there are national and international conferences held as well. Flores aspires to become an author in her future and she has already written a few books. She has also won different contests for short story and poetry creations. The library held a contest and of 250 kids Flores's short story won second place. She also won third in a contest for a poem she wrote, which was published in The Lima News.

Since Flores has already been nominated for the state conference, she is eligible to go on to the national and international conferences, too.