Last week I spent some time in our local upper elementary school, Cooper Elementary. I had been invited to participate in their Leadership Day. They initiated a student leadership program a few years ago based on Stephen Covey’s book. The Leader in Me. And, for the last three years, they invite leaders from the community to come and see what is happening within the walls of their school. I was impressed!
We have been trying to make a connection with this school so that we could encourage the teachers & students. Yet, I was the one who was encouraged. The teachers and administration have taken Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and applied them to their school curriculum. Every aspect of teaching includes these leadership principles. They have, in effect, empowered the students to be responsible for themselves and to hold one another accountable.
I watched as these 5th and 6th graders showed more leadership skills than many adults. They were involved in the school leadership at every level. They had a fully developed student council. They had established accountability partners. And they were tracking and setting goals for themselves in each major life area. I had to keep reminding myself they were only eleven and twelve years old!
In the last portion of the day, we had an opportunity to sit down one-on-one with a few of the students. Each student would explain their Leadership Binders to us. Each binder told a story of what was happening in their lives and how they were taking responsibility for their choices. These students confidently engaged me as an adult. They took ownership of their lives and their choices. I began to ask them questions that were “off topic”. I asked them questions like “what are you reading right now” and “what is your strongest/most challenging subject”. I was impressed with how they were able to go with the flow of the conversation. They gave thoughtful answers rather than canned responses. They had learned to think and reason and make good choices.
Now, to be fair, these children were still children. They gave developmentally appropriate responses. They still get in trouble. They are still immature pre-teens. But I saw that our children have more potential than we think they do. They want to be empowered to make good choices. And they want to believe they have some control over their future. I think we owe it to this generation to empower & believe in them.
I am encouraged today that our world still has a future. God is not finished with us yet. And He desires to give all of us a hope and a future. Let’s win in 2014 by encouraging this next generation to be the leaders God has destined them to be.