A small group of scholars are making a large impact at Lincoln Elementary School. Three times a week, fifth grade students Kimora, Adelia, and Aarju meet with Instructional Coach Kelly Jones to develop their leadership skills through school-wide initiatives.
Jones shares that the opportunity gives students space to start their days reflecting on how it feels to be a positive leader, and helps make Lincoln the best environment for them and their peers. One of their first goals involved updating the school’s family tree -- an eight foot long glass-encased bulletin board displaying a colorful paper tree. Each leaf on the tree is a photo of a Lincoln family, showcasing the diverse community members who make up the school. As families transitioned to middle school, the tree became outdated, so the three students created a plan to collect, organize, cut, and display new photos of each family.
“Now kids can see their families and feel welcome,” Adelia said. “It makes them feel at home.”
The girls practice using their voices as leaders by collaborating with classmates to hear their opinions, and then representing them to the school administration. In one case, when a staff member suggested “beach day” as a school spirit day theme, Kimora, Adelia, and Aarju were able to quickly share that their peers were not particularly interested in that idea.
I want to help come up with all the cool ideas in the school, and help not just one person, but the whole building.
Kimora, Lincoln fifth grade scholar
While Kimora was originally unsure about joining the leadership group, she ultimately committed because she wants to be a role model for others. One of the biggest leadership skills Kimora has learned is persistence, which is “like building a big Lego house,” she said. “There’s a lot of little pieces you deal with before you finish. So you’ve got to get ideas from other people and ask questions to think about how it will look in the end.”
For Aarju, being a leader is about connecting with other students to make them feel welcome and included. For Adelia, it’s about having a say in important decisions.
Looking ahead, a potential next project for the group is sprucing up the welcome kits each new student at Lincoln receives, including updating a booklet of staff photos so scholars can learn about their new teachers.
“I want to help come up with all the cool ideas in the school, and help not just one person, but the whole building,” Kimora said. “That's why I keep coming back and working on my leadership skills."