At KNCP, students are referred to as Leaders. And cultivating leadership doesn’t happen by accident.
“Our vision was to make sure student voices were heard and facilitate and empower our Leaders to participate in leading their school.”
Ms. Edmonds teaches fifth grade English Language Arts at KNCP, and is one of four teachers who serve as teacher mentors on KNCP’s Leaders Council.
“Myself, Ms. Elrod, Ms. Gordon and Ms. Kinzer meet with our Leaders three times a month on Tuesdays,” explains Ms. Edmonds. “It’s a chance to talk about what’s going on at the school and plan out ways for our students to get engaged.”
Getting engaged was part of the plan from the beginning.
Students had to run for their position in Leaders Council and campaign. That included coming up with a slogan and a platform that would get their fellow Leaders excited.
“My slogan was ‘Vote for me, I’m Cammie!’ and I used social media to reach my friends,” says Cammie, a sixth grader at KNCP.
“I decided to run, because I wanted other students to realize that we can be interested in politics at a young age and to show others that young people can be strong and have a voice, too.”
In total, ten students across all grade levels were elected. Students must maintain a certain GPA to stay involved.
Ms. Edmonds says, “A lot of decisions are made by teachers, so it’s important to let our kids’ voices be heard, while also teaching them how to be leaders and holding them accountable for the school and their grades. They were elected to represent the school and that is a big responsibility.”
Since Leaders Council began in the fall of 2018, KNCP students have spearheaded several activities, including Spirit Week.
Students did all the marketing and coordinating with KNCP’s school leadership team, and then part of the exercise also included self-reflection after the event.
In watching how students reacted to that exercise, Ms. Edmonds says, “It’s fun sitting back and hearing them talk through how things went off an agenda they created. We can give feedback, but our goal is to let them run the meeting.”
Before the holidays, Leaders Council also organized a Christmas activity for their sister school, KIPP Nashville College Prep Elementary School, which shares a building with them. Students planned multiple activities with different stations and ran the entire event.
Cammie explains, “It makes you think about all the work our teachers put in planning our lessons, because you have to think about what the students would like, not just what you want to do or talk about.”
Cammie says after her experience campaigning for Leaders Council and being elected to represent her peers, her political ambitions have gotten much larger.
“I want to be the first female President,” she says matter-of-factly.
And Ms. Edmonds adds that this is the kind of mindset she and her fellow teachers are trying to nurture.
“Ultimately, we’re teaching students why making your voice heard is important. Student government and advocacy are things they’ll hear about in high school and college. We are laying the foundation now, so that when Leaders like Cammie encounter these opportunities in a few years, they’re already prepared to make an impact.”