Students learn important communication skills during Chamber event

By Connie Nolen / Community columnist

“Okay guys, we’re headed to the auditorium for a communication presentation,” I said to my Honors English class.

“What? I thought we were looking at ‘Another Letter’ today?” Crystill Crockett asked.

“Would you rather stay in here and do what we can do tomorrow–or go learn something new and exciting?” I said.

Kirk Mancer from the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce brought “Communication Matters” to life for Pelham High School juniors.

Speaking to students about a broad array of verbal and nonverbal communication, Kirk Mancer impressed me. Soon to be seniors, many juniors are looking for their first summer jobs, and this information is on point.

Reflecting on the maxim that it takes at least five adults with shared values to influence youth, I’m glad that Mancer and the Chamber contribute to the PHS community.  Katie Cardwell, PHS College and Career Coach, another blessing and positive influence, worked out the details to bring Mancer’s presentation to our juniors.

Mancer advised students to keep interview question responses to under two minutes and to respond with statements acknowledging their successes as team members.

“Using ‘we’ in your statements reveals that you see yourself as part of a valued team and you know how to work well with others,” Mancer said.

A few students turned to look at me—perhaps a little mystified. We’ve been studying argumentation. Looking at speeches and letters that have changed our society, the ways we interact, and the ways we care for our environment, I’ve shared writing lessons that direct students to work for what is right and fair and precious in our world. I’ve explained the use of the word ‘we’ to create a team; however, another statement impacted students even more.

Explaining that addressing differing viewpoints is necessary, I advised students that treating others with respect is paramount.

“If you insult someone, you’ve lost your ability to influence that person,” I said.

“I’m writing that down,” Jaden Lafayette said. “That’s deep.”

Jaden is right. Civility matters. Kindness matters. Respect matters. These values are deep. Civility, kindness and respect are the foundation for success.