Chick-fil-A Leader Academy™ –
Brookwood High School’s Servant Students
By Katie Hart Smith
Chick-fil-A Leader Academy™ is a national high school leadership program focused on impact through action. Brookwood High School (BHS) partnered with local Chick-fil-a store located at 1559 Scenic Hwy North in Snellville and their franchise operator, Tom Balsamides, to develop their leadership program to cultivate servant students at BHS dubbed ‘BOSS,’ Brookwood Organization of Servant Students.
BHS’ Leadership Academy is facilitated by faculty leader and BHS alumna, Jackie Meadows. She engages students in monthly Leader Labs that focus on teaching the faculty nominated and selected group of forty-five students about important leadership characteristics and skills that they will use to create student-led programs called, Community Impact Projects.
Meadows, an educator for twenty-seven years, has been teaching at BHS for the past three years. “I’ve always loved working with student leadership programs throughout my career. I was thrilled to help develop BOSS in cooperation with our local Chick-fil-a partner. ‘Mr. Tom,’ as we call him, is so unbelievably supportive of everything we do. In our model, each student is empowered to take what they have learned through the student leadership program and spread the message to ten others,” said Meadows.
Left: 407 stuffed animal getting delivered s to the Snellville PD
BOSS organizes community projects throughout the year. “In the spring, the student’s Impact Project has been to host a carnival at BHS for children with special needs. It has been a very successful event for the past two years and it is so rewarding for the students. We even applied for a grant through Chick-fil-a to help with the funding of the event. We were awarded $500. That was amazing.”
“Our kick-off event in September benefitted the non-profit organization, Feeding Children Everywhere. They deliver healthy meals to hungry children all over the world. The students packed over 900 meals. Using an assembly line, they filled plastic sealable bags with rice, lentils, dehydrated vegetables, and seasonings. Each bag makes a lentil casserole when you add nine cups of water. It can feed up to twelve people. When the students learn how they are impacting a family’s life, they cry. It is a life changing experience for them.” Meadows described how rewarding it was for her to see the expressions on the kid’s faces when they learned that there are even families in their own community who may possibly receive these care packages.
In the month of December, BOSS students participate in an event called, “Do Good December.” Meadows reflected, “Last year, the Snellville Police Department requested a need for stuffed animals. The students learned that the police officers like to carry stuffed animals in their patrol vehicles and distribute them to children they encounter while they are on domestic violence calls or the scene of a traffic accident in an effort to provide comfort during the stressful event. The students went to work and collected over 400 stuffed animals for the law enforcement officers.”
The Chick-fil-a Leader Academy program utilizes a three-pronged approach: 1) Engaging students where they are with what interests them. Through a combination of inspiring storytelling and technology, they create compelling ways for students to re-imagine leadership and what is possible; 2) Exposing students to new and unique ideas and insights. Monthly Leader Labs highlight inspirational and informational ways for the students to make a difference in their community; and 3) Equipping students with tangible tools for their leadership journey.
The end result is to “inspire students, transform schools, and impact communities.” Meadows added, “The students are so thankful for the endless support Mr. Tom Balsamides provides. While he is incredibly busy running his Chick-fil-A store, he still manages to find time to be there for whatever we need. His leadership expertise helps us so much. Tom is also so encouraging and pumps us up when we need it most. We are so thankful for him.”
Meadows is proud of what the BOSS students have accomplished to date. She looks forward to continuing to mentor servant students, our future leaders, and provide them with opportunities to learn invaluable lessons so they can make a great impact in their community through action.