One Hardin County middle school is a pioneer in a new school-wide positive energy initiative.
James T. Alton is the first middle school to model the Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey. Currently four elementary schools across the country have been designated as Energy Bus schools.
“We want to create positive cultures and it begins with positive school leaders, positive educators who develop positive student leaders,” Niki Spears, Chief Energy Officer and co-founder of Energy Bus Schools, said. “In our program, we talk about everybody is a leader and when we talk about leadership, we’re not talking about the position or a title, we’re talking about taking ownership.”
Spears will lead the school’s training with the initiative, using one of the seven principles each month. The seven principles are you’re the driver, create a positive vision, drive with purpose, fuel your ride with positive energy, transform negativity, love your passengers and enjoy the ride. The concept and principles are taken from Jon Gordon’s book “The Energy Bus.”
Spears said JTA already has a positive culture but the goal is to sustain it.
“The goal is that we spread this to other schools and that we have more of the student leadership component,” she said. “…This year is all about reinforcing the language. What does it mean for you, the driver? What does it mean to create a positive vision and so we’re just giving people the tools to stay positive. Even though I think they have a great culture, as you get into the year, it becomes so much on you that it becomes frustrating and you get discouraged so it’s having the tools and strategies to know when you do get there, how do I get back out of it.”
JTA Principal Jama Bennett’s passion for “The Energy Bus” helped the school to be chosen for implementation.
“We were looking for middle schools that were out there on social media because you want to be able to do in order for people to get to know about our journey is that we have to have principals that are active on social media,” Spears said. “She was also passionate about Jon’s work. She had read the book already and her staff had done something with it previously, so we knew we didn’t have to come in and go over the whole thing.”
Now that the school is in the midst of implementation, it could get contacted by other school administrators from all over to see how the Energy Bus initiative works for middle school.
“I truly believe that successful schools must have a positive school culture that transfers from school to home to community,” Bennett said. “In our society, it is becoming more and more important to teach students the importance of setting goals and being accountable for their learning and their behavior.”
Bennett said after reading most of Gordon’s books, she felt the principles from “The Energy Bus” would be perfect to instill in the students and staff as the encompass skills needed for life.
“The principles blend in perfectly with the district Work Ethic Certification and our Trojan Care Virtues,” she said. “Teaching others the first principle – that they are truly the ‘driver of their own bus’ will hopefully instill in them that every single day they have a choice and a voice and how that can be used to guide them throughout their lives — personally and professionally.”
JTA counselor and “Energy Ambassador” Lindsey Garced said the school is excited and humbled to start the Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey.
“Collaborating with Niki Spears as part of the Energy Bus Network and incorporating the core principles into our school leadership culture will help our faculty and staff grow as professionals,” she said. “This journey will also afford our students the opportunity to develop into the school-wide and community leaders they are capable of becoming.”