The instructors at Oakmont Martial Arts often talk about how taekwondo can influence all aspects of your life. For second-degree Black Belt Sarah Dugan, it meant getting into the National Honor Society.
A high-school student, Sarah has been training for many years. Her grades qualified her for NHS, but it was taekwondo that sealed her acceptance. “The leadership program gave me the experience that I needed to be accepted into the National Honor Society,” she said. “A main pillar of NHS is leadership, whether it be in school or in other community programs.”
“It’s always enjoyable to watch our students grow and mature,” said Karyn Graff, school owner/chief instructor and fourth-degree Black Belt. “I think Sarah’s confidence was a big area for growth – not her confidence in her own martial arts skill, but rather the confidence to assist other students of varying ages.”
As a trainee instructor (red collar), Sarah helps out at OMA in regular classes and special events. She helps conduct classes, teaches forms, and assists with things like summer camps and birthday parties.
But this participation didn’t come easily. And the invitation to join the leadership program brought a healthy dose of nerves. “I was very nervous to become a trainee instructor,” Sarah said. “My nerves stemmed from my fear of teaching forms incorrectly, forgetting key material, or simply not knowing what to do in certain situations.”
But Sarah is a quick study – and a genuine, caring person. So the nerves didn’t last long and her confidence in her abilities has grown. “I feel now that I always end up knowing what to do, whether that means me speaking to an instructor for advice or getting the students involved to help me solve the problem,” she said. “This has helped me so much with working in teams, and sharpened my skills in quick-thinking decisions.”
And as any high-school student can tell you, these abilities are key in the classroom, where group projects are common, as well as other areas of life.
“She (Sarah) has helped with a wider variety of events than most other leadership students (birthday parties, classes, all of our summer camps),” said Ms. Graff. “I think the combination of these events has helped Sarah see how incredibly useful a Trainee Instructor can be.”
Sarah sees leadership helping her beyond high school and NHS. The skills she’s gained in working with others and encouraging people will be key to her growth in school, college, and when she enters the professional workplace.
“This leadership experience will help me excel in any workplace,” she said. “Having the ability to take the lead and help other people along the way is extremely important in today’s time, and I am very grateful for the experience I’ve gained through becoming a trainee instructor.”
A software technical writer by day, Mary Sutton is the mother of two teens and has been making her living with words for over ten years. She is the author of the Hero’s Sword middle-grade fantasy series, writing as M.E. Sutton, and The Laurel Highlands Mysteries police-procedural series, writing as Liz Milliron. Visit her online at www.marysuttonauthor.com.