GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Shadrack Martin loves to see members of his service organization “A few Good Men” in action helping others.
It’s a program he started years ago for high school students in another school district. But when he came to Guilford County, he knew it could help students here too.
“When I got the opportunity to come to a middle school, I was like, oh, this is the perfect opportunity, because if we can impact them now in the middle school level, when they get to High Point Central or to Andrews or the other high schools here in Guilford county, they won’t deal with some of these problems. They’ll have those soft skills. They’ll be respectful and know what they’re looking for in life,” he says.
It is a different approach for students at Ferndale Middle School. Martin takes the kids who might be struggling or considered discipline problems and instead shows them how to become leaders.
“The leadership traits that I see, they may be good, bad or indifferent, but I take them and show them how to mold those leadership traits, where they may use them to distract a class. But I show him and tell him, Hey, you’re doing this. So that means you got the people’s attention, you got your peer’s attention. So, let’s redirect that behavior. And get some positive feedback and positive reaction from your friends and everybody in the classroom.”
Principal LaToya Ceasar-Crawford has already noticed a difference.
“We’re already watching them stand up and become the leaders that we know that they are and what we want to see as in transition from leaders to ambassadors in this building, where they spread that leadership in a way where leadership is so cool and give all the cool that middle school kids want, that every child in this building sees themselves as the leaders that they are.”
The students who are involved know it’s a commitment to change.
Tyson Wilcox said he had heard about the program. “At first, I wasn’t really interested in it until I figured out like what it was for the school and like for other people, so they don’t look bad at it. I really like wearing the suits and stuff because it made me feel good. Like I’m not just like a random boy in the streets who just like slang or gaming or something. So, um, I like being in this group and stuff like that, because it makes me feel good and like for who I am and not just a dumb kid or something.”
Seventh-grader Tristian Dorsey says “I heard about the program, and I thought it was a really good program for me to be in to keep my head from all this stuff that’s happening around me, so I can keep my head clean.”
They take part in service projects in the school and community and when they do, they have to dress for success, wearing a shirt and tie. But the students love it for the way it makes them feel. “Like I’m a man or something or like I’m important for something or I haven’t been in this world for who I am,” Tyson said.
As middle schoolers, Martin knows these young men are targets. “They’re inviting you right now for a number of reasons because you’re a juvenile,” he says. “You’re not going to get the same consequences as an adult, and you’re easily manipulated because you want to feel included and involved in something. I said, so I’m going to involve you in something now. And so it will be that easy to tell them no. Peer pressure won’t bother you once you start hanging out. And we started doing this thing because you’re already a part of a family here at Ferndale Middle School.”
A family that loves them and wants to see them succeed as leaders.