Insights from a Student Leader
Fletcher High School student, Matt Caldwell, was empowered by Lead Facilitator, Doug Brown, to serve as Co-Facilitator for Chick-fil-A Leader Academy and played a dual role as President of Interact Club. Matt shared his experience with us as a student helping to lead both organizations this past year.
Matt explained how Chick-fil-A Leader Academy has been integrated into the existing Interact Club model at Fletcher High School, emphasizing how the monthly Leader Lab curriculum served not only as a guiding set of core values but as a helpful conversation starter for a cross section of students from all walks of life at the beginning of each Interact Club meeting.
Matt: “The [Leader Lab] videos helped us recognize that small actions can make a really significant, lasting impact on others. They were quick, good reminders for us to make a meaningful contribution with every project we undertake… Even for an established service organization like ours, the leadership curriculum from Chick-fil-A Leader Academy was very helpful to the programs we had in place.”
Matt also touched on how Chick-fil-A Leader Academy enhanced what Interact Club students were already doing to serve the community.
Matt: “A perfect example of how we’ve been able to blend the two programs is what we’ve now been able to do for the teacher luncheon that we’ve hosted at our school for years. Because of our Chick-fil-A partnership, we were able to use the Chick-fil-A [Digital Offer] cards provided with the Big Thank You and have each student go the extra mile and personally thank a teacher for all they’ve done … Something as simple as a free meal made such an impact on these teachers.”
The Difference a Facilitator Can Make
Matt described Mr. Brown’s dual role as Sponsor for Interact Club and Facilitator for Chick-fil-A Leader Academy as a true example of servant leadership.
Matt: “Mr. Brown leads by taking a step back and trusts students to take ownership in order to learn lessons in responsibility. He’s not afraid to take those risks but provides support when needed and remains available… He truly thinks about everyone involved and tries to encourage students every chance that he gets. The real world lessons I’ve learned from Mr. Brown are innumerable, but most importantly, I’ve learned from Mr. Brown how to lead by serving others.”
A True Partnership
For Matt, the partnership between his high school and their local Chick-fil-A restaurant is what truly differentiates the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy program from other service organizations.
Matt: “The commitment that Operators like Josh Weir [Fletcher High School’s partnering Chick-fil-A Operator] make when sponsoring their local high school demonstrates a real, tangible investment… Jeff has been incredibly supportive and is willing to help when we go to him for things like meal catering at our service projects. For example, Jeff provided meals for the Senior Citizens Prom that we were able to put on with the [Chick-fil-A Foundation] microgrant we received.”
Matt encourages others to participate in the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy program if given the opportunity.
Matt: “Interact is not as well known as the Chick-fil-A brand, so it was really cool to be able to tell students that what they would be doing in Interact as part of the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy program is happening on a national level at other high schools.”
Matt: “Inviting a school that is considering the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy program to your high school’s Chick-fil-A Leader Academy events – whether it’s an Impact Project or monthly Leader Lab – is one of the most effective ways to inspire others to buy into the program. Attending those events allows students to see the energy and excitement of high school students that are involved and gives new Facilitators an opportunity to make connections and share best practices with other Facilitators.”