A Model to Develop Student Leaders
It’s my privilege to teach leadership, facilitate leadership projects and answer questions from thousands of teens and twenty-somethings each year. As you well know, they’ll face a challenging world (and economy) once they graduate.
Gwinnett Student Leadership Team
Today, I’d like to encourage you with the story of one group of students, who are part of an ongoing initiative in Gwinnett County, just north of Atlanta. They give me hope for the future.
This cadre of students is from the largest county in Georgia. They’re called GSLT and are led by Nancy Ward. Every high school in Gwinnett County selects three juniors and three seniors to be part of this initiative. They’re chosen not purely because of academic performance, but due to character, campus involvement and influence among their peers. There is a fairly equal amount of males and females. These students meet on a regular basis, at least six times during the school year to:
- Learn leadership in workshops at the Chamber of Commerce
- Meet community leaders, from business, non-profits and institutions
- Assess themselves from personality to strengths to leadership style
- Go on field trips around the greater Atlanta area
- Connect with each other to learn best practices around the county.
I am privileged to be one of their instructors/mentors…and I love being with these students. They have a big heart, a great mind and a bias for action. The question and answer times are significant times of banter, with students agreeing and disagreeing with each other as they attempt to solve problems on their campuses. It is a virtual laboratory for leadership experiments; it’s an incubator for young leaders.
Now, here’s the cool part. These upperclassmen return to their school campus with a game plan to impact the student body. They have begun to influence the culture on those campuses—so much so that principals have told me they leave the major goals that must be accomplished for student engagement up to the GSLT students. The GSLT students have launched freshmen mentoring communities, leadership conferences on their campus, fundraising events and spirit clubs. As you read this, many are involved in mentoring a group of younger student leaders today.
Leaders from other school districts from around the state and the nation have come to examine what GSLT is accomplishing and are launching their own version of it.
Just wanted to encourage you as you invest in young people where you are.