Building Strong Foundations For Future Leaders
The Alamance Youth Leadership Academy (AYLA) is a leadership program of the Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce supported by strong partners, including the Elon University Center for Leadership, Alamance-Burlington School System, Alamance Citizens for Education, and Leadership Alamance Alumni.
Founding members identified middle school as a time of critical personal development and an opportunity to engage area seventh and eighth graders in leadership and service. The vision is to inspire and create a foundation for leadership that will follow students into high school and beyond. The program began in the Fall of 2007 with two area middle schools. AYLA currently serves 120 seventh and eighth graders in eight public, independent and charter middle schools in Alamance County.
The model includes a three and a half day summer experience hosted by the Elon University Center for Leadership, school-based chapter meetings that take place during the school year, and quarterly joint events hosted by the Chamber’s AYLA Advisory Board. Developing and implementing a school improvement project is at the heart of the learning experience.
AYLA activities help students gain:
- The ability to identify, develop and exercise leadership skills
- The ability to work in teams
- The confidence and ability to speak well in public
- Problem-solving skills
- Communication skills
- Organization and facilitation skills
- Motivational skills
- Relationships with students from other schools
Schools are chosen through an application process. Participating schools commit to working with the AYLA Advisory Board to create a sustainable program that benefits student participants, their school and the community.
Participating schools commit to:
- Providing a staff person who will oversee school-based meetings as well as coach students in order for them to learn leadership, meeting facilitation and project management skills
- Selecting students in good standing who represent a cross-section of the student body, have demonstrated the potential to lead and are willing to commit fully to this program
- Collaborating with students to initiate reasonable, well planned programs for change
- Sustaining the programs for at least two years