Out of the Mouths of High Schoolers with Mary Katherine and Jorge Sanchez

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Dustin Odham

Thought Leader for FranklinCovey Education
When I was a kid, my favorite Crayola color was sky blue, and my mission in life was to become a professional basketball player. I pursued that dream right up until I learned I was “not fast or quick, but determined and a great team player.” Yes, that was a real evaluation I was given during my AAU days. I decided to play to my strengths instead, and retired from the prep basketball scene with what I feel was a tasteful lack of fanfare. Since then, my mission statement has been to make a positive and lasting impact in the life of every person I meet. Every single day. I have spent my career trying to help unleash greatness in everyone I am privileged to work with and for. My commitment to that mission statement became more nuanced when I began teaching high school math at a school with a significant achievement gap. I was learning just as much as my students were, and there were certainly rough patches at the beginning. But in the end, our students outpaced the entire district in academic growth. Repurposing that childhood dream, I also coached girls basketball and regularly demonstrated that I had not, in fact, grown faster or quicker with age. It was during this period that I won St. Louis Region Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for a National Teacher of the Year award. As I continued to look for ways to make a positive and lasting impact on my community, I took a job as executive director of a teacher training program. My team increased our teacher pool from 75 to 200, impacting hundreds of schools and thousands of students. Then, as a turnaround specialist with St. Louis Public Schools, I helped create our Office of Innovation, enabling our lowest performing schools to get accredited. In the private sector, as a turnaround performance consultant, I led projects with district superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals and teachers to help turn their student academic performance around and transform their school communities. It was also during this time that I really perfected my karaoke version of “Friends in Low Places.” I continued this work at FranklinCovey Education as a Client Partner, where our team partnered with educators to unleash the potential of thousands of administrators, teachers, and parents – impacting tens of thousands of students in hundreds of cities across three states. As a Managing Director for the Southeast United States and Canada regions, I now support our client partners as they work to do the same all across North America. This is a far cry from a career as an NBA superstar. But I’ve loved my life, and all the people in it – most especially my amazing wife Ashley and my three boys Luke, Noah, and our baby, James, who was born in the middle of the pandemic. Every twist and turn has led me here, and I am grateful for each of them. My favorite Crayola color is still sky blue, and I’ve finally found a sport (golf) that does not depend on speed or quickness. I hope this podcast is a force for lasting, positive change for the guests, and for anyone who tunes in. I’m honored that you’ve taken the time to tune in.

Mary Katherine Archer

Student
Hello there! My name is Mary Katherine Archer. I am an 11th grader at River City Early College in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I like to spend my time playing volleyball for my school and club team. I am a member of several school and community groups including a partnership service group with the United Way called Teens United and the Mississippi State Superintendent Student Advisory Council. My dream school is the University of Texas at Austin and I want to study medicine. Even though being a doctor is my dream, I would love to own a volleyball academy aimed at training minority youth.

Jorge Sanchez

Student
Hello everyone! My name is Jorge Sanchez, and I am from the lovely city of Tampa, Florida! I’m a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School, where I am part of the Business and Finance Leadership Academy. Through the academy, I am also the Florida FCCLA State President-Elect, serving over 10,000 members within my state. I can’t wait for you all to be inspired by the stories and experiences shared on Realiteens and learn a little bit more about how you can become a leader.

Jenaya Wilder

Student
My name is Jenaya and I'm a senior in high school. My favorite hobbies include reading romance novels and binge watching my favorite tv shows. My favorite subject is history and my favorite food is pasta! I'm heavily involved in my school, mostly through Leader in Me. I serve on the Leadership Team not only for my high school but also for my District. After high school I plan to go to college and major in Biology. After graduating college I want to become a DNA Forensic Scientist.
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