Charleston Elementary School Principal Jodie Grannan said the school has been having its students exercise their leadership skills by hosting several community events in an effort to prepare them for life.
A “partnership brunch” the school hosted was an opportunity for the school’s BEST partners, church partners, staff from the Bradley County Schools central office, community leaders and other stakeholders to experience a student-led program.
Amanda Szidoropulosz and Becky Denny were the leadership event coordinators. Invitations were designed by a Charleston fifth-grader, Kristen Cross. Student greeters welcomed the guests with handshakes and speeches about the rich history of the school.
Student pianists, including Sam Lowe and Brayden Taylor, played the piano while the guests were arriving. Fifth-grade student Rachel Peterson was the master of ceremonies and introduced the student speakers throughout the program.
The program included Renee Whitman’s first-grade class sharing the “Principles of Sailing,” Allison Boling-Bynum’s second-grade class presenting their class mission statement and students from all grade levels sharing their data notebooks with the audience. The Panther Cub Choir also performed.
Students also shared some ways they had been using technology through the school’s NeuroNet and iPads on the Go programs and integrated art lessons.
Attendees also learned that the school has also encouraged students to take part in service projects, and some have been initiated by the students. Some of these projects have included a soft drink can tab collection for the Shriners Hospital, a Hemophilia Walk to help a local family, a canned food drive and the Recycling Club working to “give back” to the community.
To conclude the presentation, several successful former students, Abigail Stewart, McKenzie Jaynes and Megan Webb, explained how Charleston Elementary influenced them to become “Leaders for Life.”
The student leadership initiative is integrated throughout the school day and throughout the school year. The leadership “Principles for Sailing” program also includes character education traits that every employer and community desires.
This Bradley County Schools initiative was introduced several years ago by the school system’s elementary school supervisor, Sheena Newman. After several visits to see and experience leadership at other schools, members of the Charleston Elementary faculty were inspired to create the goal of finding the gifts and talents in every child so they could support young leaders to greatness.
Students take ownership of their learning through goal-setting and planning. The data notebooks help students track their own progress and see a plan to experience success.
Charleston Elementary School has seen success in many areas of the school such as a decrease in discipline referrals, improved attendance, increased parent involvement and an increase in academic achievement with the Tennessee Report Card reporting all “A’s” in achievement and growth.
A second leadership program allowed students to share these initiatives with their parents. School Principal Jodie Grannan concluded the evening by communicating that parents are the students’ first teachers and leaders. Her parents, Gary and Janice Baldwin, were introduced and she shared how much they inspired her. She said that, through their parenting and leadership, they taught the importance of an education, good work ethic, perseverance, strong character development and a vision through goals and dreams.