DEXTER, Maine — Dexter could very well become the leadership capital of the world if Tim Wilson has his way.
The Dexter Regional High School football coach hopes to use the knowledge and abilities he has gained from his affiliation with the Seeds of Peace in Otisfield and the knowledge and abilities of other leaders to create a year-round leadership institute in Dexter. The end goal is to make the world a better place to live, Wilson said.
Wilson, who recently shared his proposal with the Dexter Town Council, suggested that such a leadership institute could be developed using school property that will be vacated later this year. SAD 46 plans to vacate the Dexter Elementary and Middle Schools this summer on Abbott Hill and offer the buildings to the town. Town officials are expected to vote on their acceptance after an environmental assessment has been made of the buildings.
Provided private funds can be raised, Wilson envisions converting the elementary school into classrooms for a leadership institute for the sons and daughters of world leaders and other top students and adults from throughout the United States and the world. He also envisions demolishing the middle school so a dormitory could be constructed to serve the participants, who would stay on campus for three weeks at a time.
Wilson has been with the Seeds of Peace International Camp since its inception. The camp works to empower young people by giving them leadership skills to help resolve conflict, and Wilson hopes to take that process one step further with the Dexter project. “It would have a lot of same qualities,” he said this week.
“This is not about politics; it’s how you learn to live and how you become the best human being you can within a society,” Wilson said of the multigenerational program he envisions. “Respect comes first, and you earn that, and young people have to understand what that all means.”
Society as a whole, Wilson said, is “mean.” He said people tear one another down, and that meanness is picked up by children, who need to hear about more goodness. For him, peace will come from one youngster after another, provided they get the opportunity to listen and learn and problem-solve.
Wilson, who in 1966 was the first black man to teach in an all-white school in Maine, said he wanted to give back to the community that gave him that teaching opportunity.
Judy Craig, executive director of the Dexter Regional Development Corp., is excited about Wilson’s proposal. She said the institute would bring to Dexter “cream of the crop” students who want to develop leadership skills. In return, those students would take those skills back to their communities, whether it is overseas or in the United States.
“It’s going to provide a lot of jobs, from housekeeping to maintenance to teachers and food services,” Craig said of the proposal. Regarding the latter, she said, the program would tie in nicely with the town’s Farm Project now under way. The town is organizing farmers to develop a farm store, and the products offered there would be served at the institute, she said Friday.
Craig said the proposal would greatly benefit the town. “It will bring many people into the community,” she said. “I can’t see how it could be anything but great for the community. It’s a win-win.”
Wilson added: “I want something that will go on, and that Dexter actually gets some creditability from it.”