The power of influence is at the core of Kenwood Middle School’s newest initiative, Power Mondays. With a focus on student motivation, the program brings in guest speakers who share their testimony each week. Power Mondays provide a real-world conversation about setting goals, staying inspired, and making choices.
“Our plan is to invite guest speakers who have a testimony that will empower and inspire our young male and female students,” said Dr. Timothy Grant, At-Risk Coordinator at Kenwood Middle. While the program is open to all students, the primary focus is reaching those students at-risk. Dr. Marlon Heaston, Principal at Kenwood Middle, and Dr. Grant worked together to develop a vision focusing on “entrepreneurship, leadership, parenting, relationships, community development, and more.”
Since the program began on March 15, an average of 40 students have attended each week, hearing from leadership within the school, Austin Peay football players and staff, and members of the Clarksville Police Department and Clarksville Fire Rescue. Upcoming speakers include local government officials and administrators from post-secondary institutions. Community leaders can volunteer to speak with students by contacting Dr. Grant.
For a middle school student, influence presents itself in all forms. For at-risk young men of color, daily life pressures are a continuous threat to their educational journey. These conversations with men of influence allow students to see opportunities where they previously did not exist.
During the March 29 event, Clarksville Fire and Clarksville Police officers shared their personal journeys, relating to students through life experiences. They shared stories about hanging out with the ‘wrong crowd,’ growing up as a military child, gun violence, and having family members in prison. The more the speakers shared, the more the students began to engage.
“The purpose of telling my story is two reasons,” said Kevin Finch, District Chief with Clarksville Fire. “One, there were people in my life who cared about me. Sometimes I didn’t even recognize it. You have those people, too. Two, I may not know what you’re going through, but I know you have the ability to make choices. Only you can decide the right path or the wrong path.”
Clarksville Police officers spoke candidly about the power of relationships. As they explored the impact of education, the students were asked about their career plans. While most students aspired to be professional athletes, the officers encouraged them to think deeper. “Everyone wants to live the fast life,” said one officer. “Live a life that means something.” The group then engaged in a candid discussion exploring students’ relationships and perceptions with law enforcement.
Kenwood Middle School leaders are determined to empower students to invest in their future.
Ultimately, each speaker emphasized this mission and the power of choice. Michael Rios, Assistant Fire Chief, said, “It’s hard to make the right choice, but there’s always something inside you telling you what’s right.”