Vernon Hills program promotes leadership, learning
Shona Moeller is all about building character and keeping the universe at peace.
As head of the Physical Leader Welfare Program at Vernon Hills High School, Moeller is entrusted with serving as a both instructor and mentor to students enrolled in the two-year program.
“It’s all about learning what’s involved in growing into a leadership role from a holistic approach,” Moeller told the Lake County Gazette. “It’s character building in a P.E. setting, where students hone in on skills needed to teach such classes and engage in a few project-based assignments that promote leadership.”
One such assignment is the Passion Project, in which students work hand in hand to develop something that serves and benefits the community.
Projects implemented this year have included a stress-relief club to help students deal with tension and a Zen garden where students work as part of the promotion of a peaceful atmosphere. Last year, students crafted an app for a volunteer help program Unite.
Moeller envisions adding another program called Service Project, in which students will be responsible for creating a project that serves the community as a whole in some way.
Now in her fifth year of leading the program, Moeller says she’s reminded every day of all the ways it's helping to shape students.
“Every year, former students who are now in college that were once part of the program return to the school to talk about their college experience and how they’ve found themselves taking on leadership roles they maybe wouldn’t have had the confidence to try without being in this program,” she said. "That's truly what it's all about."
Moeller also feels like it's a good fit for her.
“I’ve been drawn to leadership qualities for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I was the third child of four girls growing up. I can only wish we had programs like this back then.”
Students are required to be in their sophomore year and in good code and Physical Welfare standing with the school to qualify for the program. They must also commit to spending their junior and senior year in the program.
“It’s a situation where students are learning skills beyond just P.E.," Moeller said. "They’re learning to be leaders for the rest of their lives."
Moeller also serves as coach of the Vernon Hills women’s water polo team, where her philosophy is much the same.
"I want the ladies to have fun," she said.
She says she makes sure to impart as many life and learning lessons in their experiences as she can.
"I do what I can to make it a fun atmosphere and create team-building,” Moeller said. “They’ve already learned that when we play as a team, we have fun and have a shot at reaching our goals.”