Patricia Hawke asked:
A Step in the Right Direction at Nashville Schools
We’re all familiar with the kinds of students who are projected to be potential leaders in high schools – the debate team member, the math club geek, the student council president. These are the stereotypical American leaders of tomorrow; lucky enough to have their special abilities recognized while they are still in school. But what of the other less visible role models? The kid with a stammer who has a lot to say if he could only get the words out clearly enough, the teenage mom with unlimited potential, even the kid at the back row who spends more time in detention than in class?
You’d cringe at the thought of these students being portrayed as leaders and nobody would blame you. In a groundbreaking new program, Nashville schools believe that this exact group of “low on achievement but high on potential” students has the capabilities to make an impact on society. So confident are Metro Nashville schools that these students, if given a gentle nudge, can make equal or greater contributions to society that they are partnering with local community organizations to promote this belief.
Identifying Role Models at Metro Nashville Public Schools
Alignment Nashville, a group that aims to bring together Nashville schools and local community organizations like the YMCA, and Hands on Nashville, wants to create a more organized framework for co-operation between these bodies. Earlier well intentioned attempts to coordinate Nashville schools and voluntary organizations fizzled because of the unsystematic nature of the efforts. This time around the focus is on going beyond words to actual implementation. The organization has launched a couple of programs at two Metro Nashville Public Schools targeting students who possess leadership capabilities but are currently frittering away these abilities in other pursuits. In other words it aims to draw out the potential of at-risk teens who might not have otherwise had a shot at any roles in the school system, leave alone positions of leadership.
Creating Unlikely Leaders at Nashville Schools
This heartening initiative to empower students in Metro Nashville Public Schools who have been marginalized and draw them into leadership roles in the system works in a surprisingly simple manner. Staff is asked to nominate students they feel are currently on the fringes of the school, but could blossom given the right opportunities.
The program then aims to target these students through reading programs, discussions, maintaining journals, enhancing problem solving and team work abilities. Students are encouraged to communicate successfully and respect diversity. Although it’s still too early to gauge the success of this program, authorities at Metro Nashville Public Schools say changes are already visible. Students in the programs are already assuming positions in school bodies and clubs and even at other local organizations. In the long run, Nashville schools expect this commendable program to lead to fewer dropouts, decreased school fights and an overall enhanced school environment for all.