Toastmasters International Finishing 6-Week Student Program at Summit Technology Academy  

According to Business Insider, 57% of business leaders list soft skills as the most important asset a job candidate can bring to an interview.  At the top of that skills list is oral communication and feedback.

International Studies teacher Curtis Cook has addressed this professional necessity for his students by inviting the Lee’s Summit Toastmaster Club into his classroom for a six week intensive training program.

“At Summit Technology Academy (STA) our approach to education is to utilize the expertise of our community business partners.  The International Studies program at STA is launching a new student-run business, and our students need to really enhance their presentation skills.  Who knows more about that than Toastmasters International?” says Curtis Cook.

“When I started STA, I knew we would be working and speaking with companies and clients, but I knew I wasn’t very good at public speaking,” says Taylor Markham, STA student and Senior at Pleasant Hill High School.  “This program ended up not only helping me with my public speaking and presenting skills, but also taught me how to give constructive criticism”.

Rick Chandler, member of two Lee’s Summit Toastmasters clubs, answered Mr. Cook’s summer request and designed an intensive program that would take International Studies students through Level One of Toastmasters in 24 hours of class time spread over six weeks.

Mr. Candler says; “Toastmasters is a non-profit group with the mission to improve members speaking and leadership skills resulting in greater self-confidence. We have clubs all over the world with a public speaking program that has helped millions of people. Bringing this program to the students was a natural and a lot of fun.”

“Mr. Chandler has helped me vastly improve my public speaking skills and continues to do so.  This life skill is something which I will be eternally grateful for,” Karla Lopez, STA student and Senior at Truman High School.

As part of the International Studies program at STA, students will be running a student cultural consulting firm known as Global Prep Squad (GPS).  Digital marketing firm Creative Spark designed a comprehensive marketing plan, and has trained students on the use of social media as a marketing tool.”

GPS creates “Culture Maps” for their customers that will be traveling abroad. These Culture Maps include a brief cultural overview of the specified country complete with business etiquette, useful phrases, and much more.  Each Culture Map can then be personalized to include research into specific areas such as business competitors, political climate, overall market trends, and anything else that a customer may need.

“Many of our customers know the importance of culture in international interactions, but they don’t have the time or expertise to do the research.  That’s where we come in,” says Curtis Cook.

In the classroom students have noticed the value Toastmasters has added to their education and their personal lives.

“We aren’t finished with the program yet, but Toastmasters has already helped me immensely with speaking at school as well as my part time job,” says Senior Taylor Manske, STA student and Senior at Lee’s Summit West High School.

And as a result of the Toastmasters experiences, many students feel closer to their classmates.

“Toastmasters has allowed me to connect with my peers from hearing their stories and telling mine. I have become more confident in my communication skills as well,” says Raegan Mountain, STA student and Senior at Truman High School, Independence.

The contributions of business partners such as Toastmasters applied through the professional experience of global Prep Squad put these International Studies students ahead of their peers.

“By competing in the business market as a high school student, my students need to be trained to competently pitch ideas and effectively communicate with our customers at a professional level.  Toastmasters will give them the edge that they need. As a result, these students will enter college with a resume that includes actual professional business experience. Not many high schoolers can say that,” says Curtis Cook.

Numerous school districts are part of the Missouri Innovation Campus Network, sending junior and senior high school students to Summit Technology Academy.  Network member districts include Belton, Blue Springs, Center, Grain Valley, Grandview, Harrisonville, Hickman Mills, Holden, Independence, Kansas City, Kingsville, Lee’s Summit, Lone Jack, Midway R-1, Odessa, Pleasant Hill, Ray-Pec, and Raytown.