It was a big moment last month for a group of student leaders at Ingleside Middle School who got to meet with former U.S. Senator from Arizona, Jon Kyl.
As part of their school’s Ambassador Program, 24 seventh- and eighth-grade students who make up the Ingleside Ambassadors had the opportunity to learn more about how Kyl applied his leadership skills to his career in the Senate.
Kyl answered questions from the students about the challenges he overcame, leaders he met and his thoughts on today’s political landscape.
Seventh-grader Katie Musselmann said she learned a lot and was impressed with what Kyl had to say.
“It was such an amazing opportunity to meet a United States Senator. He was so friendly and humble,” Katie said. “One thing that stands out is how he told us to not judge people by their appearances, instead we should take the time to get to know them. I was also really excited I got my picture with him.”
Kyl had plenty of valuable advice to share with the students, having served Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987-1994 before transitioning to the U.S. Senate from 1995-2013 and again in 2018.
As a longtime Arcadia resident with two adult children who attended Ingleside, Kyl was pleased to meet with this group of Ambassadors who are learning how to be leaders and make a difference in their community.
Kyl’s stories about his time in the Senate inspired the Ingleside Ambassadors to keep working toward their leadership goals and aim high.
The Ambassador Program was started by Arcadia resident and former Ingleside parent Sue Tessmer, who wanted to get students involved in school tours for prospective families. In addition to leading tours, Ambassadors assist at local elementary school events and act as representatives of Ingleside in the community.
Ambassadors go through an application and interview process to be selected for the program, and from there they receive leadership development training that they can apply to their education and extracurricular activities.
Lori Logan, co-chair of the Ambassador Program, said the event with Kyl was one of many ways the program has had a positive impact on students over the past few years.
“Not only did he share his experiences and interactions serving at one of the top levels of government in the United States, but he also focused on giving students practical advice and things they can do to be successful in their own right,” Logan said. “He gave them advice on not being on social media too much and really cultivating personal face-to-face relationships, which will be very helpful for them in the future.”
The Ambassadors will keep in mind what they learned from Kyl as they prepare to host fifth-graders from Hopi and Tavan Elementary Schools in December. Ambassadors will also lead parent night tours, giving them experience in public speaking and communication.
“Our goal is for them to develop leadership skills,” Logan said. “During training we really focus on basic things like handshakes, eye contact and being a good listener. Those types of things will obviously help them down the road whether it’s in high school or in their careers.”