Students graduate leadership program

Published 5:01 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Greenville Middle School students received something far more valuable than a certificate of completion on March 13.

They received the keys to a successful future.

The students graduated from the Teach One to Lead One program, a 12-week course focused on building character and leadership in youth through presentations, hands-on activities and mentorship.

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Character and leadership are things that can’t be taught without a positive relationship between mentor and student, and the backbone of the program is built upon five role models. Margie Kennedy, Chad McGriff, Susan Andrews, Johnny Padalino and Tammy Gibbs all serve as mentors for the Teach One to Lead One program.

Kennedy said that throughout the program’s six years, seeing an actual difference in children’s lives through their involvement with Teach One to Lead One has made it all worthwhile.

“We’ve worked with over 200 kids, and we’ve seen students come in without much vision or purpose for their lives, and leave with real direction,” Kennedy said. “That is what has meant the most to me.”

It clearly meant just as much to the students, as several of them sought to show their gratitude for their mentors’ work via personal testimony, poetry and song.

The program notably combines the traditional mentoring approach with a solid curriculum based on ten universal principles:  respect, integrity, self-control, courage, excellence, compassion, humility, enthusiasm, teamwork and honor.

The transition from middle school to high school can often be a difficult one, in which students face an all-new set of challenges.  But Kennedy said that the first principle, respect, is key to making that rocky transition a manageable one.

“Kids at this age are not respecting each other, but they learn through this program to respect someone, even if they disagree with them,” Kennedy said. “It makes a difference in the whole way they look at life.”