Leading to Leave a Legacy: What Education Can Learn from Politics

Leading to Leave a Legacy: What Education Can Learn from Politics

Written by David Seibel | 9.29.2019

This post is the first in a series of interviews with leaders who give their perspective on education. These interviews aim to learn from leaders outside of education to influence those inside education.

The following post recounts three lessons learned from Carmel City Councilman, Jeff Worrell. His bio shares his background in Athletic Training during college, his life as an entrepreneur leading Advantage Medical, and his current profession as a City Councilman of the Southeast District in Carmel. Here are three lessons on education from a politician.

The mind of an engineer and a salesman could not be more different.

The mind of an engineer and a salesman could not be more different.

Lesson #1: Parents influence their children in mysterious ways.

To compare Jeff’s father to his father-in-law is to compare a salesman/civic leader to an engineer. While Jeff’s father experienced fluctuations in income, Jeff’s father-in-law lived the predictable, secure, and well-designed life of an engineer. Their personalities and styles of parenting could not have been more different. While Jeff’s father was not overly involved in his academics during childhood, his father-in-law regularly oversaw the academic performance of Jeff’s wife.

Because of his father’s influence, Jeff was never afraid of taking risks and has developed a high tolerance for ambiguity. This entrepreneurial spirit enabled him to lead well in his years at Advantage Medical and now on the City Council. It was his father’s example as a civic leader that ultimately guided him towards leading in politics.

Jeff shared that his father-in-law was initially disapproving of Jeff’s entrepreneurial attitude because he wanted his daughter to have the financial stability and predictability that he provided as an engineer. The mind of an engineer and a salesman could not be more different. While one values control and predictability and stability, the other values growth, opportunity, and advancement. It seems that Jeff’s father’s hands-off parenting approach coupled with his example as a salesman suited him well in the long-run.

Parents and teachers don’t always know the impact they are having on the next generation, but they can rest assured that young people will remember their example — and maybe even imitate it! Moreover, when children are confused or distressed or don’t know what to do, perhaps they don’t need to be comforted or given the answer, but instead told, “Figure it out, or you’re in trouble.”

The common thread between the two of them is that they were both demanding and did not tolerate excuses.

The common thread between the two of them is that they were both demanding and did not tolerate excuses.

Lesson #2: Some people respond to demanding leadership.

When asked about his two most influential teachers, Jeff shared his sixth-grade teacher and his college athletic training supervisor. The common thread between the two of them is that they were both demanding and did not tolerate excuses.

Jeff’s favorite teacher was his sixth-grade teacher Mrs. White. While she never wrapped his knuckles with a ruler or introduced his rear end to the Board of Education, there was ‘hell to pay’ if expectations were not met. Jeff shared that his family even invited her over to dinner since he liked her so much as a teacher.

In college, the athletic training supervisor was a crusty old guy that was demanding and gruff. He constantly threw Jeff into unknown circumstances, forced him to solve problems and not fear the unknown. The mindset of his supervisor was, ‘Figure it out- or you’re in trouble.’

Jeff linked his success as an entrepreneur and a politician back to his interactions with these demanding leaders.

Parents and teachers don’t always know how to uphold their standards, but they can know for certain that kids will always rise to the bar before you set before them. In Jeff’s case, the bar was set pretty high by a few leaders, and over time, he was able to reach it.

“Wow, wait a minute. I don’t know everything. There’s a lot to learn!”

“Wow, wait a minute. I don’t know everything. There’s a lot to learn!”

Lesson #3: You don’t know as much as you think.

Jeff shared that, as a politician, he had to get rid of preconceived notions about what the residents of Carmel think. Their positions on different issues may or may not fit the box that you think. He has learned to go into a situation with a desire to learn from all sides of an issue and to stay positive.

Jeff said, “Wow, wait a minute. I don’t know everything. There’s a lot to learn!” He shared these thoughts in response to the question, “What can politicians teach educators?”

Although there are clearly lessons that educators ought to not learn from politicians, Jeff’s example is important.  Parents and teachers may not know everything there is to know about a particular subject or their particular students. Possessing intellectual humility allows leaders to progress quickly because they are not constantly lugging around their own ego.

Although adults eventually stop growing in height, they don’t have to stop growing in their minds. Despite, this is only possible if you can say along with Jeff Worrell, “Wow, wait a minute, I don’t know everything. There’s a lot to learn!”

Jeff has been active in Carmel as a resident, business owner and community volunteer since 1988. He is married to Shari Worrell and they have 2 children who attended Carmel Schools, Indiana University and now reside in Chicago, IL. Jeff is a graduate of Iowa State University and spent much of his time there working in the Sports Medicine Department as an Athletic Trainer. The Worrell Family has been a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church since moving to Carmel.

 

 

Jeff has been active in Carmel as a resident, business owner and community volunteer since 1988. He is married to Shari Worrell and they have 2 children who attended Carmel Schools, Indiana University and now reside in Chicago, IL. Jeff is a graduate of Iowa State University and spent much of his time there working in the Sports Medicine Department as an Athletic Trainer. The Worrell Family has been a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church since moving to Carmel.

 

As Head of School at Coram Deo Academy, Dave Seibel aims to cultivate a generation of scholar-disciples who are passionate about learning. He is husband to Brooke and father of four future Coram Deo students. He is a graduate of Wabash College, Marian University and in final Master of Divinity course at Southern Seminary.

As Head of School at Coram Deo Academy, Dave Seibel aims to cultivate a generation of scholar-disciples who are passionate about learning. He is husband to Brooke and father of four future Coram Deo students. He is a graduate of Wabash College, Marian University and in final Master of Divinity course at Southern Seminary.

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