At New Life Academy, leadership is one of the three major foundational pillars, among scholarship and service. It’s a quality NLA wants to see implemented in students as early as possible.
NLA’s portrait of a graduate includes the framework that “graduates will live life boldly and from a heart that bends outward in love of God and of one another. They will understand that leadership is about how to be and not about power, wealth, or celebrity. They will live out their faith authentically and lead generously as servants.”
To provide students with the opportunity to learn leadership skills as early as possible, there is an Elementary Student Council at NLA that provides leadership opportunities for younger students.
“These are the foundational years,” said Brian Goodbar, elementary principal. “Giving these students leadership opportunities in elementary can only benefit them as they get older. These are skills they will be able to take with them everywhere they go.”
Besides getting to plan fun events and service opportunities, like Feed My Starving Children, for other students, they are learning how to make wise decisions and understand the benefits and consequences of decisions that they will make.
Leadership, as Goodbar says they teach these students, is saying ‘What can I do to show Christ’s love through my actions?’ Students are most importantly learning how to listen. Goodbar says that another important quality in a leader is being able to stop and listen to others.
“I am a better leader now because I am more responsible,” said Laiken Thompson, a 7th grader who was a member of the elementary student council last year.
This year, there were 50 elementary students that ran for 12 available spots. Goodbar said that he talked to each student so they would not be disappointed if they did not get a position.
Elementary student council members are elected by 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students who all vote on a traditional ballot. Each candidate prepares a recorded speech that is then shown on video to other students. Students are encouraged to make posters to advertise their candidacy, but they are not allowed to give things away. “We want them to promote themselves as what kind of leader they will be, not what they ill give away,” Goodbar said.
“I wanted to join student council to help create exciting activities for students at my school,” said Jack Moorman, an 8th grader who was the elementary student council president two years ago. “I like it when the students work and play together. It helps build unity and school spirit.”