How the Summits sparked an educator's passion for leadership
A note from Ambassador Leaders: Ms. Coker is one of our incredible teacher leaders. She has traveled on many Leadership Summits including most recently at Yale in 2016 and UCLA in 2017. This is her story.
It is all thanks to my involvement with Ambassador Leaders, that I was introduced to the Lead2Feed program. A project-based service learning program, it inspired me to begin an elective leadership class at my middle school. I am excited to share just a few examples of what we've been able to accomplish so far.
Last year my students took on a daunting but rewarding project of creating a disc golf course for our city and place a disc basket at the middle school and high school. This was created to promote a healthy activity for people of all ages. Some of our other projects have included creating school shirts to promote school spirit; fundraising for picnic tables, outdoor waste baskets, park benches, and a bike rack; and even purchasing asphalt to have volunteers create a new pathway and entrance to our city park.
Reading to younger students, working concession stands, and creating a Halloween booth at the city park are just a few other volunteer opportunities my students are involved in. We also learn fun facts about our town, research other Oklahoma towns, and discuss local leaders and their contributions.
On a weekly basis, we grow ourselves through personality assessments, self-reflections, peer identification of each others' strengths, and research inspirational quotes that motivate us. Some of our more creative projects was our Rock Project where we painted rocks with positive motivational sayings and then hid them around the school campus. When students find them, it really brightens their day! At Christmas time, we delivered some to one of our local nursing homes and saw a big impact. We also created Christmas cards for soldiers and nursing home residents.
Our big project that we do twice a year for our kindergarten students is a Literacy Kit - another positive idea that I learned from Ambassador Leaders. You would be surprised how many kindergartners don't have a book or have someone read to them at home. The students create and decorate a pizza box to match the book they are going to give their "K" buddy. They include games and activities that go along with the book and interact with them. You should see their excitement over the box they get! They can't wait to share it with others and it touches my heart.
Ambassador Leaders has helped me become a better teacher in so many ways. It has given me the opportunity to work with students from all of the world, and watch them grow and mature into wonderful student ambassadors. As I watch them work together, they come up with many possibilities to make a difference in their communities. In the end, I have learned as much from them as they have from me, and it inspired me to do the same in my hometown.
I love teaching this Leadership elective. My goal is to help students realize what a difference they can make in their community as well as in the lives of others.
By Tammi Coker
Tammi is a teacher in Lexington Public Schools in Lexington, OK and is a veteran teacher leader with Ambassador Leaders.