Tamara Wolcott Fisher
Tabor Nudd, Collegedale Academy’s chaplain, had an idea for something called “Think: Lead” Middle School Leadership Conference. The goal was to start middle schoolers off on a good path, thinking intentionally about leadership to benefit everyone around them. Hundreds of Adventist middle schoolers gathered Thursday, September 5, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Collegedale, Tenn., Church. The event was hosted by Collegedale Academy’s middle school staff and volunteers in collaboration with the Collegedale Church, other constituent churches, and the Georgia-Cumberland Conference. Youth pastors from the local area came together to truly make this an impactful event.
“Traditionally, middle schoolers don’t really think about leadership that often,” says Nudd. “They’re still growing up. They don’t exactly ask themselves how they can be a leader. In reality, though, there are small ways that they do lead, whether it be by influence or choices that they make. We thought that it would be a great idea to come up with an event that would be beneficial for them, and to get the wheels turning.”
Nudd attended the Conference-wide principals meeting to promote the idea, and there he encouraged the opportunity for schools across Tennessee and Georgia to be a part of the event. This was met with praise. Fifteen schools joined the event, including Carman Elementary in Marietta, Ga.; Knoxville Adventist School in Knoxville, Tenn.; and Learning Tree Elementary in Dalton, Ga. Students from Valdosta Christian Academy even drove five hours from south Georgia to attend.
In total, more than 400 students came with their schools. This kind of attendance blew Nudd away, and reassured everyone that this event was a success.
At the event, David Ferguson, senior pastor of the Collegedale Church, demonstrated how “our influence can be our leadership.” He asked one student to figure out a task that had to be accomplished with simply the applause or mummering of the audience. The student successfully completed the task with the influence of the audience.
“To see over 400 young people learn to lead for God was an amazing experience,” said Geoff Starr from the McDonald Road, Tenn., Church.
Nudd shared, “When I met with some of the local youth pastors like Kircio Mota (Collegedale), Nate Dubs (Collegedale Community), and Geoff Starr to talk about this event, they were very supportive. It was definitely a team effort.”
When eighth-graders from each school were talking with Nudd in a discussion panel right before lunch, he asked how they could be leaders now, and how they could make a difference. Students responded with positive answers, including “good attitude on court during sports” and “helping other kids make the right choices.”
Near the end of the day, Mota challenged the students to write one sentence on what stood out for them about the event, and then those who wanted to could share. Their examples included “to be a good example,” and “have courage and let your actions be your example.”
It is the continued prayer of all those who planned the event to have these middle school students start thinking about being spiritual leaders throughout their lives.
Georgia-Cumberland | November 2019
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