SCHOOL: KENNETH CLEMENT BOYS LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
LOCATION: East Cleveland/Cleveland
GRADE(S): 24 5th graders & 22 6th graders
DATES: Late-February 2017 – Mid-April 2017
Effective Leadership Academy was connected to Kenneth Clement Boys Leadership Academy through George Golden, Closing the Achievement Gap program director for Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Soon after, KCBLA agreed to have ELA come in to the school for eight weeks to present Club LEAD, a youth leadership development program to help students discover their most important asset — themselves.
According to the school’s principal John T. Story, “[The students] had a great deal of challenges where they had a teacher who went out on medical leave for a great deal of time. So, absent of that consistent leadership in the classroom with the teacher—again they have leadership throughout the building in myself as a principal, we have a dean of engagement—but they come to school for their teacher every single day. They aim to please their teacher every single day. So, we wanted this leadership piece to help them understand that not only are you pleasing the teacher, but you have to please yourself first. If you’re happy with who you are, what you are and where you’re going, now you can start to guide those around you.”
During ELA’s time with the 5th and 6th grade boys of KCBLA, the students discussed iconoclastic thinking, goal setting, time management, team dynamics, team behaviors, attitudes and habits, values, ethics, effective communication, and networking. The students participated in a number of highly interactive team building activities that helped them hone in on the leadership skills presented in the weekly sessions.
Principal Story made the following statements about ELA’s programming:
“ELA is important at all ages.”
“Partnering with ELA is really meaningful for our young men because now they can take the time and work on leadership development, work on prioritizing and understanding of impacts of the systems around them.”
“I can see [the students] being able to work together in a team-oriented session much better than they were doing earlier in the year. I can see that the program that ELA offers allows them to think critically.”
On their post evaluations, the 5th grade students noted:
On the 6th grade post evaluations, the students noted:
Sam is a 5th grader at Kenneth Clement Boys Leadership Academy. He liked to work in groups and collaborate with others, but he had never been taught the theory on how all groups function. During week four of our eight-week Club LEAD program, Sam found himself in an argument with a classmate during an activity. This particular session dealt with how to successfully navigate teams, and this particular activity challenged students to work together to balance a hula hoop which needed to be lowered from shoulder height to the floor.
“You’re not doing it right! No, you’re an idiot!” The arguing quickly turned from somewhat helpful to nasty as Sam and a teammate started to get frustrated. After a quick break and a few deep breaths, it was the voice of a third partner who got the team to calm down and make one final attempt together. Victory!! Finally the group completed the task, as the hula hoop made its way successfully from their shoulders to the floor.
In his graduation speech, Sam spoke about this activity. I did not know it at the time, but Sam was impacted by the conversation our class had directly following the hula-hoop exercise. In his speech, Sam mentioned the four stages of group behavior; forming, storming, norming, and performing. He took this newfound knowledge and applied it to the real world experience he had in class weeks previous. Sam realized that it was in the ‘storming’ phase where his group fell apart, due to the arguing between himself and a peer. Sam also recognized that this is the phase where groups have the highest probability of falling apart, simply because healthy arguing can turn into pointless bickering.
In group projects throughout middle school and high school, ELA believes Sam will further hone his skills in teamwork. It will be experiences such as this, which help him understand his opinion is necessary, but not always the only voice that matters. It will be activities such as the hula-hoop-challenge, which will guide Sam’s understanding of healthy arguing versus negative arguing. We had a blast at KCBLA and hope to impact many more students just like Sam.