Georgia School teaches young men how to be servant leaders | Georgia News

By BIANCA MOORMAN, Savannah Morning News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — As he stood in the background, shy tenth grader Micah Calhoun wasn’t the one taking the initiative. He just needed an extra push to find his voice and with a new leadership program, he found it.

“What I’ve learned is to take the initiative in situations and to communicate better about how I feel under certain conditions.”

Calhoun is one of many boys participating in the Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) at Bethesda Academy. The pilot program, which began in August 2021, aims to teach Christian leadership linked to the school’s core values: love of God, love of learning, strong work ethic and code of conduct (honor, respect and consideration of others).

The program consists of two parts: a seminar and 36 Heroes lessons that allow young men to explore the concepts of leadership through real-life examples. During the week, students discuss case studies of servant leadership during the 36 lessons of Heroes. After talking about the lessons, the group discusses what they have learned, identifies the challenges and clarifies how this is a quality of leadership.

political cartoons

The program is open to boys in grades 6-12 who are in the top 10% of their classes. Twelve boys, one from each class, are separated into two groups. Each group has a male and female mentor, who lead the boys on certain leadership topics through informal discussions.

The program was created with the help of two interns from the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond.

Reverend George Whitefield founded the school in 1740 as an orphanage with a mission of love of God, love of learning and a strong work ethic.

Bethesda Academy president Mike Hughes said after the school was used as an orphanage it was used as a school for boys with behavioral issues, adding that the school is no longer used for that purpose. end. In 2011, the school was rebranded to focus on college-preparatory learning.

Hughes said the school’s mission is to help young men become productive citizens through academic achievement, athletics, spiritual development and leadership training.

He said all students are required to attend chapel and academic class, but the leadership program provides an additional way to connect young men to their faith and servant leadership.

Hughes said other schools don’t have the same model, which allows the leadership program to be measurable and replicable. He said if the data shows how the program has been successful for students, then the school will expand it.

“We believe that as this program progresses and the results become evident, other middle and high schools across the country will adopt this model.”

Program leader and retired U.S. Army Colonel Ken Vaughn also wants the program to be used as a model for other schools. He said the goal is for the program to eventually become a school-wide program and that they plan to have upper-class students who were part of the original group to serve as mentors for the younger ones. .

“We’ve focused on the best kids in school, and they’re leading the way in the transformational process of taking Bethesda from a last resort to something marketable and bringing people here because of what we do,” he said.

“We love being a leadership academy for Christian leaders.”


Students start their day with a group breakfast and have a daily devotional lesson before diving into leadership. Every Tuesday, students participate in a seminar to discuss a core value such as honor and how it relates to being a leader.

Vaughn said to make it more enjoyable for its students, the group hosts talks about modern leaders like Tim Tebow and Stephen Curry. They also learn servant leadership by helping those in need outside of the classroom.

On the first Saturday of the month, the group cooks meals at Christ Church Anglican and delivers meals to children and other members of the community. Students who participate will receive course credit and a possible $1,000 scholarship.

Vaughn describes the lessons as being discussion-based and allowing students to have their say.

In a recent lesson, students discovered bravery. Vaughn said the boys learned two types of bravery: physical and moral. An example of physical leadership, according to Vaughn, was fighting in a war while morality would be more along the lines of defending a harassed student.

Grade 10 student Jayden Holiday said God describes bravery as someone who is strong, courageous and fearless. “To overcome your fears and let nothing stop you. To not let anything disturb you.

Meanwhile, seventh grader Jadon Turner said the program taught him how to make decisions without getting angry. “It helps calm me down in certain situations,” he said.

Grade 12 student Chad Grefski said the leadership program inspired him to do more service work in his church, even going so far as to start his own leadership group called Alpha. He said the program is about God and studying how to live a richer life.

“I’m personally looking to see if we can get some things done in my church because we now have a Sunday prayer breakfast,” he said.

All the young men can agree – without the leadership program, they don’t know where they would be. “It gave me the drive to step up and take charge whenever things need to be done,” Grefski said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments are closed.