While most school leadership seminars are designed for teachers and administrators and the highest student achievers, the Bonstingl Leaders for the Future Summits are created specifically for elementary school children that may not see themselves as leaders – no grown-ups, other than instructors, allowed. The program was created to empower children and help them to realize their leadership potential.

Northeast Delta Dental has been sponsoring Northeast Delta Dental Youth Leadership Summits at our headquarters in Concord, NH for the past 13 years and this year I was proud to once again participate along with Founder Jay Bonstingl and some amazing teachers.

Our first goal was to educate the students about leadership traits. At Northeast Delta Dental, I have championed the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program to all of my senior executives, and, Jay is also a proponent of the principles. So, we were excited to work together to discuss leadership within the context of the seven Baldrige categories of: Leadership, Strategy, Customer, Measurement/Analysis, Workforce, Operations and Results. Next, we illustrated the importance of a holistic approach to these categories utilizing the Baldrige Bicycle Model, underscoring that success results from addressing the categories in unison.

Secondly, the students conducted a personal inventory of their own skills and traits, becoming aware of their own leadership potential. Finally, they were encouraged to harness their hidden leadership skills to create a project that would benefit their school or community. For example, one school group created a program to promote mental health awareness/suicide prevention and another designed a plan for students to assist a local food pantry.

I believe every student left this summit with a greater sense of self and the drive to make a difference in their own school. What greater gift can we give our future leaders?

Tom Raffio
October 2022

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