We are going into a classroom at Jackson Prep where Making A Difference is a part of the curriculum.
Back when I was in 7th grade, in addition to having to walk to school in the snow uphill both ways, they also pounded into us the three ‘r's', reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic.
Well, at Jackson Prep, starting in 7th grade they are adding a 4th "r", responsibility. Seventh-through-12th graders take part in the global leadership institute. They learn how to believe in themselves and recognize their unique gifts and qualities and more importantly how they can use those traits to Make A Difference in the world.
"And we have seen students step up and take advantage of the leadership material we've taught them and they've made a difference in their world," said Dr. Cindy Townsend, Director of the Global Leadership Institute. "They've done projects to impact their community, their state, their nation, even their world. They've gone global. So we've seen the impact it's made in the lives of students."
The students do a Making A Difference project. This past year, among other things, prep students helped feed the homeless, organized mentoring programs for the boys and girls clubs and even gave the kids there tennis lessons.
A couple of the fellows, William Townsend and Will Keller, rounded up enough uniforms so youngsters in a village in Guatemala could organize a soccer league. And their enthusiasm was contagious.
"Our coach loved the idea. He has a passion for children as well as us. And so once we came up with the idea we wanted to give them uniforms he was all in," said Prep students Townsend and Keeler.
Anna Grace Buchanan and Cara Lee Crawford organized a 5k run that raised twelve thousand dollars for cancer research at UMMC. That run, by the way, will now be an annual event that the senior class of Prep will sponsor every year.
And all of the students learn what it takes to be a leader, and more important, that they can be leaders. All it takes is grasping that 4th ‘r', the responsibility to apply the other three.
"And now we just want to connect the head knowledge with the heart knowledge," said Dr. Townsend. "So we are graduating students that really will impact the world as leaders."
"Well, it's important for your life to strive to Make A Difference in other people's lives instead of just striving for things for yourself," said Jackson Prep student Mary Hannah Smith.
And that is what Making A Difference is all about; doing something for somebody else along the way and not always just for yourself.
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