By Michelle Talsma Everson

Seventh through twelfth grades are years of big changes where young students go from tweens learning to juggle multiple classes to seniors making decisions on what to do post-graduation. During these formative years, while learning core academic subjects is important, learning soft skills such as leadership, teamwork, time management, and more, is also vital. Whether your student has been learning online this past year or in the classroom, chances are that they could benefit from some one-on-one guidance and tips on how to thrive during even the most challenging times. This is why the Leadership Society of Arizona (LSA) was created.

Dr. Jacob Kashiwagi is the chairman of LSA. He shares that the LSA’s leadership model is based on 28 years of business management research, which commenced at Arizona State University (ASU). His father, Dr. Dean Kashiwagi, and he taught skills originally intended for businesses and organizations to students at ASU.
“We taught honors courses at ASU that took the business model of running an organization more efficiently and helped students to use those skills in their own lives,” Dr. Kashiwagi says. “These skills included deductive logic and leadership and the students loved it. Classes were always full and often students’ grades and lives improved.”

This leadership model (known as “The Best Value Approach” business model by Dr. Dean Kashiwagi) has been developed through 2,000+ global projects valued at over $6.6 billion. LSA has adjusted this model for teens, parents, and teachers. They have supported over 2,300 students in seven years, according to the organization.

While teaching this model at ASU, two then-students, Jake Gunnoe, PhD, and Alfredo O. Rivera, PhD, received funding to take these same principles and create a way for them to help high school students from all different backgrounds. Through this new team, LSA was born.

“In college, I felt unprepared for the real world. I was stressed and lacked direction,” says Gunnoe. “I co-founded LSA to help students find stability, direction, and confidence before they get to college.”

LSA is comprised of researchers, educators, and consultants. Since 2013, they have been developing tools and processes to improve the delivery of educational services. They use an industry-proven professional development model to support students, parents, teachers, and professional organizations. This summer, local students have the chance to learn these tools through LSA’s one-of-a-kind online summer program.

“We have found that stability, happiness, and success come from understanding leadership and social skills,” according to the organization. “But you cannot force teenagers to learn these principles. Students must learn how to apply them in their own lives and at their own pace.”
In this program, which uses Dr. Kashiwagi’s No-Influence Method mentoring program, students meet four days a week for three weeks for fun and interactive activities that relate to their interests. Students work one-on-one with a certified life coach to set goals, form successful habits, and plan for their futures.

“The online summer program is very individual based; the instructor to student ratio is as high as 1:3,” says Dr. Kashiwagi. “This allows for more interaction time. The program is activity-based and flexible, and it’s perfect for students who, because of this, can practice socializing.”

Some of the Online Summer Program’s highlights include:
• Objective: Have fun and teach students principles of success that lead them to live happier lives.
• Timeline: 3 weeks, 4 days per week, 1 hour classes
• Platform: They use a highly interactive online platform called Remo. It allows students to work in smaller groups. This allows for more activities, networking, and discussion.
• Individual Coaching: Each student works one-on-one with a life coach every week.
• Additional Resources: Access to a library of 20 hours of additional lessons and material.

“Every day, students will meet in a virtual class to complete activities and team building. Each week, courses will focus on a specific topic proven to make professionals more successful,” according to LSA. “During one-on-one coaching calls, coaches will get to know their students and help them with what they want (e.g. develop hobbies, create routines, strengthen relationships with family, and overcome personal challenges).”

This course is for students ages 12 on up (junior high through high school) and, to help families during the pandemic, is available at a significantly lower rate than in years prior. For families who need the help, Dr. Kashiwagi shares that scholarships and financial help is available.

In addition to the summer program, LSA also offers workshops, free classes, an active YouTube channel, and even a free parents course online. They do this all while maintaining a zero operating budget as a nonprofit.

Registration for the online summer program is now available. To learn more, visit