Building Leadership in the Middle School

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As our children mature from middle school to high school, and later on to college and adulthood, we all hope they develop leadership qualities.

It is not necessarily about being the one everyone follows, or the most extroverted one in the class, but about being someone who shows maturity and integrity in decision making.

There’s no greater place to start harnessing these qualities than in Middle School.

“I really want to empower some of these students to become leaders in the school. It really starts with a core group of kids to really step up their game and really impact and love on the rest of the kids in the school,” says Dr. Shalen Bishop, TCS Middle School Principal.

This past week, middle schoolers took part in two events aimed at helping them take that step.

Middle School Leadership Conference

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Last week select seventh and eighth graders attended The Middle School Leadership Conference held at First Baptist Church in Metuchen. The event, sponsored by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and hosted by TCS, helps build leadership within middle schoolers in Christian schools across the state.

Students take part in sessions that bolster team building, help them learn reflection, and examine the Word of God and what it says about leadership.

“It’s exciting to see our Middle School students learning about what it takes to be a godly leader and then applying what they learned by coming up with tangible projects they can organize to impact the Middle School for Jesus Christ.,” says Laura McKay, Director of Operations and Student Life at TCS.

The Eighth Grade Outdoor Education

Leadership is something we want to harness in the entire eighth grade class. That’s why all eighth graders are invited to14980597_10157731493420077_8124029248088352314_n take part in the 8th Grade Outdoor Education, a three-day two night trip to reconnect with themselves, each other and mostly the Lord.

Last week our eighth graders took that trip to Spruce Lake Outdoor School in Canadensis, PA. Much like the Junior Retreat, students took part in challenges that steered them back to spiritual reflection.

“I was really surprised how much I enjoyed the experience as a whole and how much I got to interact with other people and I made new friends,” says eighth grader, Michael Woytowiez. “We learned how to use our words correctly and be respectful of each other.”

“I learned more how to appreciate others and not make assumptions about others,” says another student, Rachel Mendalski.

Students like Rachel George expressed appreciation for the weekend, which she says actually helped shape her as a
person in just a few short days.

“It’s a great experience 14708191_10157731493560077_5283368654656900716_nover all. It’s great to build character and learn new stuff you didn’t know,” says George.  “My favorite was the zip lining.”

Activities that push physical, mental and spiritual limits such as zip lining, rock climbing and map and compass orienteering are part of the agenda.

“It was really cool to see students get out of their comfort zone, seeing God work in them and through them and just also get that educational experience in the outdoors,” says Bishop who experienced the trip himself for the very first time. “I would do it all over again.”

img_6158Now mentors at TCS will work with these eighth graders to take this experience and bring it back to school, to help our youth continue to build off of the character and spiritual development they experienced on the trip.

“We spent a lot of time talking about the words that we say and how those words can powerfully and permanently impact others for good or for bad,” says McKay. “We’re praying that as we go forward, the eighth graders will be putting into practice the theme verse for the three days; Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and Redeemer. Psalm 19:14”

New Leadership Elective

One way to keep the momentum going is through a new leadership course being offered for the first time this school year for eighth graders. It’s an elective that Dr. Bishop is teaching with hopes that students will want to make a difference here at Timothy and within their communities.14937287_10157731493885077_6888203120620238017_n

Dr. Bishop says the course is off to a great start; “It seems the students are really engaged and excited. They’re really digging deep in how leadership plays are part in Middle School and in the World.”

The course focuses on teaching students about positive and negative leadership perceptions and how to be a positive role model through service projects, self-discovery, Bible lessons and more.

As Christ demonstrated that He is the ultimate leader to follow, the hope is these middle schoolers will look to follow in His footsteps.