Inspiring the next generation |

Inspiring the next generation

LORY POUNDERsummit daily news

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

DILLON VALLEY As the two presidents sat together by the front entrance of Dillon Valley Elementary School to talk about their roles, the admiration they have for each other stood out.Fifth-grader Michaela Lecklitner, 11, is the student council president. And this week, her grandmother, Mary Kay Sommers, president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), came to visit with the schools leaders and talk to the students. I admire her because of what she does, said Michaela about her grandma, who inspired her to run for student council president and helped her practice her speech.Sommers, who is impressed with Michaelas willingness to step up and be a leader, said, Shes been part of my inspiration as well, as are all kids. During her tenure, Michaela plans to get students involved in the school through spirit days. She wants to put an idea box in the classrooms so students can contribute to coming up with themes for the days. For example, one of the previous spirit days was pajama day where students came to school in their pajamas, she explained, adding that these fun days help students relax and get excited about school.Thats our (her and her friends on student council) favorite part about it. … When the kids smile, it just brightens up our day, said Michaela. Michaela was elected in the fall, and this will not likely be the last presidential role she will fill. She plans to continue on student council throughout her school days and hopes to follow in her grandmas footsteps, possibly becoming a leader in education.Monday, she was excited her grandmother visited Dillon Valley. After Sommers spoke during the morning assembly, students came up to Michaela and said Youre so lucky to have a grandma like that, Michaela said.Sommers has been a principal at a K-6 school in Fort Collins for about 18 years. In 2006, she became the president elect for NAESP. This year she is serving as president, and is on leave of absence from her principalship and next year she will be past president of NAESP and back in Fort Collins. During her time in this role, she wants to make the future of education more real, she said. She is working with others to more clearly define what education should look like for upcoming generations. In todays world, creative thinking is critical to student success, she said, adding that they need to be able to adapt, think globally and be more than just good test takers.Theyre (children) the future … and Im proud to be a part of it, said Sommers as she smiled at her granddaughter. And similar to what Michaela is doing with trying to involve students in the school and have them contribute ideas, Sommers is trying to ensure that educational leaders bring ideas and work alongside legislators in shaping education for the future. She has testified before the U.S. Congress and has worked with the U.S. Department of Education.Also, she has met with principals and educational leaders throughout the country, Canada and Australia, and trips are planned for The Netherlands and U.K. so she can continue learning and collaborating.I just love whats going on with this school, said Sommers who was thrilled to squeeze in a visit to Dillon Valley where she has two grandchildren, Michaela and her sister Haleigh, who is in second grade. Im so impressed with the energy and enthusiasm. … Ive even given this school as an example.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at