By Antwoine Johnson, MD Middle School Program Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of Melor Suhaimi, MD Programs Manager
“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born. “
— Warren Bennis
This has been AALEAD Loiederman Middle School’s anthem since the school year has started. As a program, the youth had opportunities to look into themselves as to what makes them leaders. They have also been able to look to and learn from their predecessors, such as Yuri Kuchiyama, Japanese American activist from the Civil Rights movement, and myself to model after as leaders. They have even taken the time to look at these leaders and name the characteristics they see in them that the youth wish to adopt– bravery, confidence, humility, to name just a few. Through activities that teach and involve them in learning about what the leader has done, they have discovered so much about themselves and also about each other.
The latter was shown yesterday in programs when it came time to nominate the members of AALEAD’s Middle School Youth Council. During the nomination process, youth were allowed to nominate a fellow peer for the position, but also had to explain why they thought their peer is a leader. It was a heartwarming experience because everyone ended up getting nominated, which meant that everyone shared characteristics with each other that exemplify one as being a leader. One example was of a 6th grade student nominating a 7th grader. This 7th grader just moved to the United States from Vietnam and speaks very little English. Why was this 7th grader nominated? Because of his actions, as the 6th grader explained. This 7th grade AALEADer is a young man who is always willing to help people, always humbly going out of his way to do so, despite his being a new AALEADer and having trouble speaking English.
And what more can I say about the rest of the nominations? With reasons ranging from good communication skills, caring qualities, to being proactive, every AALEAD Loiederman youth was nominated because their peers saw leadership qualities in them all. It was a truly amazing sight to see how our AALEADers can encourage each other to take the lead!