Tuesday, March 8th, 2016
We recently had a chance to speak with Michael Webb, a teacher based out of South Windsor High School located near Hartford, CT. Michael has been an energetic and involved contributor surrounding the launch of HP4K’s Young Leaders Program over the past couple years. Working alongside HP4K Board Member, Dover Grumet-Morris and Chris Summers, member of the New York Rangers organization, they have initiated the mentorship program at South Windsor High School this season.
Thank you, Michael, for taking the time to give back and for answering a few questions today.
Why did you decide to get involved with HP4K?
I was extremely fortunate to have met our Hartford Wolfpack goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris who, at the time, was back for his second successful stint in Hartford. My wife and I are both educators by trade and are always looking for resources to help kids. As such, we were in awe of Dov’s education and unique background. Fortunately, he was willing to share a great deal of his knowledge with my classes and this ultimately led to my exposure to the program.
Why do you contribute the time, in addition to your responsibilities as a teacher, to initiate a mentorship program, such as HP4K’s Young Leaders Program?
So much of our time in teaching is focused on standards linked to content and curriculum. For me, HP4K represents the ideal platform to deliver the hidden curriculum – developing lifelong learners who can transform that information into experiences. The leadership our student group has been exposed to and has continued access to is beyond anything that traditional staff at a school can offer. These players are truly modeling what social and civic responsibility looks like in the real world.
How has your experience been working with professional athletes, such as Chris Summers?
It’s given me a renewed perspective on how much we really are in all of this together. As professionals in every field, we endure a process that leads to success. Chris Summers is a dynamic leader who I watch dominate the blue line every weekend. Yet, I am more enamored at the other Chris Summers who comes from a small town in Michigan and offers advice on everything from school and athletics to peer pressure and trying to fulfill expectations. He has achieved a level of success that only a few thousand in the world have; however, he and I share some similarities relative to the path towards achievement.
Among the most important insights I have gained from working with some of the players involves my degree of appreciation for their life experiences through the game. Regardless of their level of education, these players have a much better understanding of what it means to deal with constant pressure and stress from continued evaluations. They may not even be aware of their enhanced abilities to adapt to changing situations and environments. Students in high school are much more secluded from these issues and do not typically have anywhere near the awareness of the world outside of the state they live in. I would hope that players reading this realize just how much the game has given them and how valuable their experiences are to us.
In what ways do you believe the HP4K Young Leaders Program will affect the lives of the students taking part and their future?
Having piloted the program with Dov last year, I can attest to the profound impact that HP4K has had on my student group. We knew that our group would be accepted into most of the colleges on their lists, and they remain grateful to Dov for providing the letters of recommendation. The real joy is watching these students experience what it feels like to not only be a leader, but to give back in a way that creates a cycle. Last year’s group met with the current group Chris and I are working with in an effort to “pass the torch” and stress the importance of becoming leaders that the elementary students can look up to. As our new group takes the knowledge Chris has shared into their mentorships in the lower grades, I am confident that those young students will reach me in a few years in the position to give back. In this manner, I am grateful for HP4K for showing us the way!
About Hockey Players for Kids (HP4K)
HP4K is a nonprofit organization made up of hockey players around the world who are dedicated to positively impacting the communities they play in.
HP4K believes that promoting player interaction with children is the best way they can achieve this impact, and acts as a catalyst in connecting players with kids in their communities.
A career in pro hockey means constant relocation, and it can be difficult for athletes to feel engaged in the cities they live in. HP4K empowers players by providing an outlet for community service efforts.
Hockey Players for Kids was founded to:
Encourage pro hockey players to get involved in their cities
Show pro hockey players just how easy it can be to get involved in meaningful community service projects
Make a positive difference in the lives of kids
Provide a network for members to share ideas and resources
Influence other people to go out and do something in their community
For more information or to get involved, please contact:
Ryan Pelley, Executive Director, Hockey Players for Kids (HP4K)
Office: (709) 743-4387