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School develops leadership program for junior high students

Written on January 12th, 2009

Immanuel Leader-in-Training program encourages students to bless others

Immanuel Christian School in Charlottetown has started a leadership program for its junior high students to equip servant leaders.

Principal Matthew Mann says they are delighted with the program, which is called I.L.T. for Immanuel Leader-in-Training.

Students recently filled out an evaluation of the program and universally expressed real enthusiasm for what they were doing, says Mann.

“They believe that it gives them an important role in the school, they can see the effect of what they are doing and they all want more time for it,” he says.

Mann says when he arrived at the school a year and a half ago he noticed an enrolment drop in the junior high grades, which pointed to a lack of confidence from parents in the school program for grades 7, 8 and 9.

After some discussion and thought the I.L.T. program was designed to support and guide junior high students in “their years of greatest transformation.”

“We were modifying some of the things we already did, so it was in part just clarifying to parents what is our vision for junior high, what are we already doing but especially what can we do more, and in a very deliberate way to make sure we are training them to be leaders,” says Mann.

The leadership program is for all students, not just those who might be naturally inclined to be a leader, he adds.

The program’s overarching goal is for students to bless other people.

There are two half an hour periods a week for class time. Students in grades 7, 8 and 9 are divided into three groups, each with a different objective. Every couple months students are randomly mixed into new groups for a fresh dynamic.

The class time provides an opportunity for groups to discuss, ask questions, and hear reports. Tasks are assigned to one another in the group and are completed during intervening times.

Objectives of the three groups are to organize hot lunches once a week as a fundraiser for I.L.T. projects or purchases, to bless people within the school through helping other students or teachers, and to bless people outside the school such as raking leaves for neighbours.

Examples of I.L.T. work include planning a chapel service, talent show and ice-cream sale. Students have fundraised for sports equipment and an international relief organization. Each student has an area of personal responsibility within the school, such as helping kindergarten students at lunch or tidying a common area.

Students are formally evaluated for the program. Evaluation includes students marking one another, students marking themselves, a group mark and a mark for their area of personal responsibility.

Grade 7 student Mathan says the program is really fun and enjoys helping to decide what the school is involved in.

He says he’s learned the importance of teamwork, “that you have to listen to other people, it’s not just you in the group, it’s everybody.”

Junior high student enrolment has already increased at the school. The program started in the fall of 2008.

“The program is enabling us to address the areas of personal growth that are not typically touched upon in your traditional academic subjects,” Mann says.

“We are not trying merely to give them an excellent academic education, we are trying to create well-rounded, mature, responsible leaders — future leaders and present leaders — and this program gives us the territory to work on that with them.”

Immanuel Christian School is a member of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS).