While in high school, I had the utmost pleasure of being a student for one the best educators I know. Mr. Repko was my English teacher for one semester in 10th grade and another semester in 11th grade. Up until this point, I was never really one for English class. I didn’t enjoy reading and had trouble seeing the “deeper meaning” in novels. In 10th grade we had to read and interpret The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway for an assignment (Shmoop, 2008).
I actual ended up reading the novel twice, just to make sure I got all of the key points so that I could do well on the exam. I still ended up with only a B on that test, but what happened afterwards has changed my life up until this day. Mr. Repko always had a way of making the class feel united, similar to how an organization would be. For this particular assignment, we were broken up into groups and had to assign people to do specific tasks. However, the most important leader was Mr. Repko himself.
Transformational leadership focuses on leaders that push their followers to exceed what is expected of them (Northouse, 2013). After finishing the exam on The Old Man and the Sea we were presented with challenges that did just that. Mr. Repko work with us all to design circles that described the deeper references in the story. We spent over a week analyzing what the hidden messages were, such as the one were Santiago could be compared to Jesus (Biblical, 2012). It was the first time I was ever exposed to the meanings of each color and the feelings associated with them. He taught us what it meant to be an individual and how to discover who we truly are.
Up until this point, I had no idea who I really was, nor what I wanted to do with my life after high school. I knew I wanted to attend college, but I had no clear vision of what I wanted to pursue. Mr. Repko wore his emotions on his sleeve and had a strong sense of identity, a key quality of transformational leaders (PSU, 2012). Our classroom really was like it’s own organization, and he led us all with a vision, as well as making clear what the values were in his classroom (PSU, 2012). Both of those are also qualities of a transformational leader. Most importantly, he gave us a sense of identity in the classroom and took us in a new direction filled with self-reflection and growth (PSU, 2012). Mr. Repko is a perfect example of how transformational leadership does not only apply to businesses. It’s more than managers leading employers. In my life, it meant an educator changing my life for the better and helping me figure out who I am.
Biblical influence and symbolism in the old man and the sea. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=3539
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
Pennsylvania State University (2012). Psych 485: Leadership in Work Settings: Lesson 10: Transformational Leadership. (commentary). Retrieved from: https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/fa12/psych485/002/content/10_lesson/01_page.html
Shmoop Editorial Team. (November 11, 2008).The Old Man and the Sea Summary. Retrieved from http://www.shmoop.com/old-man-the-sea/summary.html