Dozens of Cobb County teens are learning what it takes to become great leaders. They are members of the inaugural class of Atlanta Braves Leadership Institute (ABLI), which recently launched with 68 students from all 17 high schools in the Cobb County School District and Marietta City Schools.
During the ABLI kick-off at SunTrust Park, prior to the Braves versus the Miami Marlins game, students and their parents gathered for a formal reception to learn more about what to expect in the coming months. Principals at each high school selected the student leaders to participate in the program.
“As we settle into our home at SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta, we are continuing our longstanding commitment of partnership with local schools,” Atlanta Braves Vice Chairman, John Schuerholz told students in a letter welcoming them to the ABLI. “As a student leader… we believe you can make a positive impact on our communities.”
“I want to congratulate the students selected for this program,” said Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, told the group gathered for the kick-off. “Strong leadership is something we desire and need in our country. We especially need young leaders who are learning exactly what to do and how to do it.”
The Braves have partnered with ADDO Worldwide, a service and leadership organization, based in Cobb County, which partners with more than 700 schools across the globe, with a mission to “develop and empower high school students to become collaborative leaders.”
ADDO Co-Founder, Kevin Paul Scott, is a graduate of Kennesaw Mountain High School.
The ABLI students will have four “Leader Experiences” during the school year, each focusing around a foundational leadership theme. Speakers will include some of the metro area’s most dynamic leaders from SunTrust, Coca Cola, Georgia Power, Delta Airlines, NAPA, Comcast and Northside Hospital.
“We are going to talk about things, such as leading yourself, which will involve learning self-discipline,” said Scott. “We are going to hear from some Braves players. We are also going talk about leading change and leading others. We will learn how to lead in the community.”
“I hope to get some tips on how to become a better leader to influence people around me and to help others,” said Annabelle Colmenares, a Kell High School junior.
“I think it is an amazing opportunity. I’m very excited. I’m ready to meet a lot of new people in my county and get together with others who want to be leaders,” Kennedy Deveaux, a senior at Campbell High School.”
Parents believe the program is just what their students need to mature as leaders.
“I am thrilled she (daughter, Kennedy) is a part of the ABLI. It is important to me as a mother and as a principal that we develop those leadership skills in students at an early age,” said Hermia Simmons-Deveaux, principal of Milford Elementary and mother of ABLI student Kennedy. “My goal as a parent is for her to be self-sufficient and independent because I know I won’t always be there for her. So, I want to develop those skills at a young age so she can become a contributing member of society.
Superintendent Ragsdale spoke to the students during the kick-off about the two qualities he considers most important in a leader: humility and loyalty.
“Regardless of what position you play, as a leader, you have to be humble,” Ragsdale told the students. “You can be the best or the smartest, at one thing, and you’re going to turn around and see that nobody is following you. And, of course, without followers, a leader is not a leader.
“Loyalty. That is the second most important quality you want as a leader. You want loyalty from the people that are following you, and if you’re humble, loyalty is going to come a lot easier. Until you treat all people right, nobody really is going to know who you are, or want to follow what you want to do.”
Ragsdale also told them, “During the Braves game, you are not going to see one person carry the whole team. As you know, our mission as a school district is One Team. One Goal. Student Success. We function as a team. There is not a stand-out player on our team. While the teachers are the All-Stars, we have two types of employees in our school district, those who teach and those that serve those who teach.
“Treating people right starts with you. It’s not an ethnicity, a race, a gender, religion. You have to understand that while you may have your own opinion — regardless if it’s about sports, politics or what have you — when you’re leading people, you’re leading people of every realm. You have to be understanding of that. That is where the humility and loyalty become important.”
The inaugural ABLI will end with a celebration event at SunTrust Park in May, 2018.
Cobb County School District Students in Atlanta Braves Leadership Institute:
|Allatoona High School:||Ellen||Conley|
|Campbell High School:||Kennedy||Deveaux|
|Harrison High School:||Camryn||Douglas|
|Hillgrove High School:||Caleb||Calhoun|
|Kell High School:||Milad||Jabbari|
|Kennesaw Mountain High:||Jenna||Biggins|
|Lassiter High School:||Elizabeth||Harrison|
|McEachern High School:||Jacob||Pearson|
|North Cobb High School:||Elizabeth||Sajous|
|Osborne High School:||Jennifer||Adan|
|Pebblebrook High School:||Mikayla||Holliday|
|Pope High School:||Megan||Cater|
|South Cobb High School:||Cameron||Nelson|
|Sprayberry High School:||Tyler||Tolve|
|Walton High School:||Ashlyn||Segler|
|Wheeler High School:||Maya||McNeal|