McKINNEY (Jan. 27, 2015) — It has been observed that when all is said and done, there is often more said than done. But, for Emma Gibney, leadership starts with action that inspires others.

“I strive to lead by example,” said Gibney, a junior at McKinney North High School. “Ferdinand Foch said, ‘The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.’ I think having passion and love for what you do is the most important aspect in leading others.”

Gibney currently serves as president of the McKinney North Student Council, and she has been chosen as the recipient of the 2015 John Ben Shepperd (JBS) Institute Texas Leadership Trailblazer Award, an honor bestowed upon a Texas high school junior or senior whose leadership efforts have made a significant impact on their school and community.

McKinney North Principal Jimmy Spann nominated Gibney for the Trailblazer award. “Emma Gibney is an incredible young lady who has an amazing heart for serving others. She is without a doubt the epitome of what servant leadership is all about. Emma is amazing and is truly one of the finest to have walked the halls at McKinney North High School.”

Headquartered at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, the JBS Institute seeks to promote and inspire transformational leadership among Texans, “to prepare [them] to accept leadership responsibility and lead the state into a bright future,” according to their website.

Gibney’s style of leadership reflects that bright future. As president of the Student Council, Gibney doesn’t just talk about service; she puts it to work. She’s planned and led the whole spectrum of activities at school: dances, awareness days, freshman camps, community events. In 2014, she played a vital role in organizing the 10th annual “MacTown Miracles” holiday food drive that supplied turkey dinners to 600 local families.

It was an enormous, collaborative effort from the Student Councils of North, McKinney Boyd High School and McKinney High School who worked with other campuses in the district and community-based charities to make it happen.



The Student Councils, supported by MISD athletes and other volunteers, packed the meals for delivery, as they always do, at McKinney North just before the holiday break. Packing 600 turkey dinners quickly and efficiently is no small task, and Gibney was there in the middle of it all, issuing directions, guiding the process and keeping everything moving – but mostly just helping out wherever something needed to be done.

Once the dust had settled, Gibney’s words revealed the heart behind all of the work. “My favorite thing about this is the community feel,” Gibney said of the effort. “MHS and Boyd help us do it, so there’s no rivalry between the schools. It’s a community helping the community,” she said.

Ty Muennink, McKinney North High School Student Council sponsor (left) and Emma Gibney discuss the game plan during the 10th annual "MacTown Miracles" holiday dinner packing event.

Ty Muennink, McKinney North High School Student Council sponsor (left) and Emma Gibney discuss the game plan during the 10th annual "MacTown Miracles" holiday dinner packing event.


As Student Council sponsor at McKinney North, Ty Muennink can vouch for Gibney’s ability to lead others. “Emma has a passion for success that I have never seen before,” said Muennink. “Her desire to make not only herself better but to also improve the events and lives around her has made her a one of a kind leader in our Student Council, our school and our community. It is great to work beside someone I believe is an amazing up and coming young professional.”

In addition to serving on the Student Council, Gibney is also a member of PALS (Peer Assistance and Leadership) through which she mentors students at Press and Vega each week. And, in 2014, Gibney helped the PALS group start an anti-bullying campaign at her school and shared her personal struggles alongside other students in a video called “If You Only Knew Me.”

The video served as a humble and heartfelt challenge to take a stand against bullying – and to embrace those around you. “The best piece of advice that I’ve ever gotten, that I want everyone to take from this,” Gibney said in the video, “is that you’re not alone.”

And that pretty much sums up Emma Gibney’s brand of leadership, her heart to help others. Every act of service whispers emphatically, “You are not alone.”

“I hope to leave a legacy that doesn't just acknowledge the projects I have done but the amount of people I have touched and left an impression on,” Gibney said. “I was raised to love and serve others. If I accomplish that, then I have succeeded in impacting my school and community in the best way possible.”

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or


About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at