GREENVILLE — What makes a leader? Leadership is a developed skill. At Greenville Middle School, opportunities for students to develop leadership are fostered. Research supports the need for youth not only to learn leadership skills, but also to have authentic opportunities to apply those skills. Youth who are leaders are healthier in their relationships, learn responsibility, learn teamwork, and are more productive members of society.
At Greenville Middle School we are serious about learning. Learning includes taking a role as a leader in and outside of the classroom. There are group activities, classroom projects, sports and extracurricular programs to name just a few areas of leadership growth opportunities. We’d like to highlight two groups and their supervisors outside of the classroom that encourage leadership skill development and application through an organized transitionary process.
Wave Leaders is a group of students that teachers provide opportunities for students to develop skills and foster a greater understanding of their environment and community, with the goal of becoming icons of the community. This group is led by Mrs. Emily McIntyre in sixth grade. She volunteers her time with 6th grade students to prepare their role as future student leaders at the 7th and 8th grade level. The activities they participate in vary each year but focus on developing and applying skills to give back to the community. In the past they have partnered with nursing homes and adopted grandparents, mentored younger students, stuffed snack bags for the PTA, volunteered for parent-teacher conferences, organized food drives, fundraiser for those in need, etc.
The Student Leaders in the 7th and 8th grade continue the work of community outreach as well as provide student leadership to prepare the seventh and eighth grade students for high school leadership and beyond. Mr. Chad Curtis has taken on the solo role this year as the Student Leader advisor for both the 7th and 8th grades. Recently, the student leaders have assisted at parent-teacher conference night, organized fund raisers and led the students and staff in two much needed spirit weeks to support the improvement of climate and the Greenville High School homecoming activities.
What led you to take this responsibility on?
Mr. Curtis: When I became a teacher, I immediately chose to work with students in a leadership program. In my previous career, I worked with at-risk youth that had the potential to be leaders but lacked the opportunity. This inspired me to look at building Leaders from all parts of our school population. My path to being a Leader advisor began at South School through the Wave Leader
program. After we consolidated into the new building, an opening presented itself to be the advisor for the 8th grade Student Leaders and I jumped at the opportunity. I believe that school should be an enjoyable place for students to learn and staff to work. Our program promotes opportunities throughout the year to have fun, give back and give students the opportunity to develop and display their abilities.
Mrs. McIntyre: When I initially began teaching at Greenville, I was looking for a way to get involved with our student body more than the classroom relationships that I already had with the students. I took the opportunity to get involved with Wave Leaders within my first year and became the advisor shortly after that. Each year, I enjoy getting to know the students outside of the classroom while also helping them to develop and own leadership skills. Being the advisor of the Wave Leaders group has given me that opportunity while also allowing me to serve our community and school in a variety of ways. This group not only provides students the ability to learn about what it means to be a leader but also how to grow as a community member.
What do you think the students will learn from this leadership opportunity?
Mr. Curtis: The two principles that I teach to all students are: attitude and effort. Your attitude and your effort will determine where you go and how you will respond to the challenges and successes in life. These principles carry over to our Student Leaders. In this group, the students are given the opportunity to make decisions, self-govern and problem solve. However, this is all dependent upon what they are willing to give and how they approach each challenge. I am proud to say that the students’ willingness to learn and grow helps them to develop leaderships skills in their group and outwardly with their peers and teachers.
Mrs. McIntyre: With each group of Wave Leaders that I have, I try to provide opportunities for the students to develop confidence and their leadership skills. We work together as a team to complete specific activities that help them to learn what it means to be a good leader, and to also have a positive attitude towards any situation.
What does it mean to you to be a Green Wave?
Mr. Curtis: For me, being a Green Wave is a way of life. I grew up in Greenville and graduated from GHS in 1997. I moved back to the community in 2005 and I am proudly raising my own children in this community. I empower our Leaders to embrace their school and community as a way of life. Regardless of where they go, Greenville will always be part of their journey. Our community needs young adults to have a sense of belonging and embrace “home” as one of their fondest memories. Several years back when marketing began for our school levy, the slogan “Strong Community, Strong Schools” was used. This slogan works, especially when we have our students step into leadership roles as young adults and work to make home a great place to learn, live and work.
Mrs. McIntyre: Being a Green Wave to me is being a part of a community. I too grew up in Greenville and graduated from GHS in 2006. When I was given the opportunity to come back to my Alma Matter to teach in the school right down the street from my childhood home, I jumped at the opportunity. It is imperative that we develop young women and men to continue to carry on the community feeling and traditions that have been passed on to each generation. By helping young future leaders create their sense of leadership and immersing themselves in the Wave Way, we are preparing future generations to lead in the same way.
These two teachers not only embody leadership as a model for their students but also as former Greenville students. They both have a true heartfelt desire to give back to the community that has given so much to them.