Annual Leadership Program Empowers Students to Aim Higher

York University PLI

Students from six National Christian School Association (NCSA) schools attended the 2023 Presidential Leadership Institute July 10-16, hosted by York University. With 25 student participants and 10 sponsors representing schools in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas, the campus was blessed by the week-long training and leadership program. The Presidential Leadership Institute, now in its ninth year, is a joint effort of York University, Strata Leadership, and the NCSA to help students work in collaboration to address real-world challenges. The themes of faith, service, character, and leadership are woven together to challenge and inspire future leaders for a lifetime.

Student leadership teams experience a week of inspiration provided by CEOs, authors, York University faculty, public servants, and other influential figures. This year’s speakers included Mary Eisenhower, former CEO of People to People International; Dr. Steve Eckman, chancellor at York University, Thomas Hill of the Kimray Corporation; Amy Mason, executive director of Kimmell Foundation, Tami Heim, president and CEO of Christian Leadership Alliance, Christi Lones, York University history professor; Dr. Sam Smith, president at York University; Justin Carver, cross country and track and field head coach at YU; Tree Burks, head men’s basketball coach at YU; Lisa Hurley, executive director of York County Development Corportation; Dr. Garrett Best, chair of YU Bible and Ministry department; Jeff Hill, associate professor of psychology; Joanna Carver, K-6 counselor and K-12 media specialist; and Dr. Nathan Mellor, author and leadership expert with Strata Leadership. ​

On Wednesday, students enjoyed a trip to Abilene, Kan. to tour the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. They were then privileged to receive a special tour of the museum by Mary Eisenhower, granddaughter of the president and first lady.

The experience empowers students to make lasting changes on their campuses in the upcoming school year. Each team comes with a solution to improve their school, then work throughout the week on solutions and strategies. The climax of the week is a TED Talk-style presentation from each student team, laying out the plan they will implement at their school.

The week ended with a banquet to celebrate the week of hard work. The evening was especially meaningful to Elliana Bastin from Foundation Christian Academy, Connor Hagerman from Mt. Dora Christian Academy, Haley Koen from Snook Christian Academy and Sidney Richie from Wichita Christian School. The students were recognized with the Howard Todd Servant Leadership Scholarship Award. The full-tuition scholarship to York University is given annually to the PLI students who best demonstrate leadership and character.

Seventeen York University students and alumni served as mentors throughout the week of PLI. Of the NCSA schools in attendance were Clarksville Christian Academy (Clarksville, Tenn.), Foundation Christian Academy (Bowling Green, Ky.), Lubbock Christian School (Lubbock, Texas), Mount Dora Christian Academy (Mt. Dora, Fla.), Snook Christian Academy (Foley, Ala.), and Wichita Christian School (Wichita Falls, Texas).

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