For 15 years, the non-profit Fayette County Education Fund has been serving Fayette County students through its unique Leadership Fayette County program.
One of a kind in the state of West Virginia, Leadership Fayette County provides programming throughout the eleventh grade year for selected students with monthly sessions focusing on leadership development, public speaking, working in groups, and an understanding of the local economy.
“Because the Leadership program occurs during the eleventh grade year, it can take a few years to see the long-term results,” said Dave Pollard, program chair. “Leadership program graduates have earned slots in highly competitive medical and veterinary schools, and come back to Fayette County to work in fields such as education, engineering, accounting, marketing, small business, criminal justice, health care, and others.”
In 2013, the Leadership program earned recognition from the Harvard Kennedy School and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation as a Bright Idea and exemplary community development program. The same year, a West Virginia University Capstone Program study attributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in local economic growth to the Fund programs.
The Fund is working toward the possibility of expanding the Leadership program into nearby counties. Thanks in part to a grant from the United Way of Southern West Virginia, the Fund was recently able to offer one session of the Leadership program to a limited number of Nicholas County students.
Based on the belief that the greater the number of leaders, the greater the potential positive impact in our communities, in 2014 the Fund launched Middle School Leadership Academy to provide junior-high participants a higher level of accountability and a focus on personal development.
Meeting in a classroom at Fayette County middle schools once a week for four weeks, the Leadership Academy introduces selected students to various methods and roles of leadership, comprehending the role of the follower, team building concepts, appropriate use of social media, appreciating the differences in how people process and act on information, and gets them on their way toward improving their skills as a public speaker…