Our Very First Light Leader!

Photo credit: Ali Elisabeth Lapetina

Photo credit: Ali Elisabeth Lapetina

A Light Leader is a member of the DAA community who exemplifies one (or more!) of our Habits of Character. It's a rare and immense honor to be named a Light Leader, because it means the student is not only a role model for the community when it comes to character, it means the student goes out of his or her way to help others show this Habit of Character. 

The name Light Leader has special meaning--it comes from our mentor school, Polaris Charter Academy. Our staff was able to visit Polaris last October during "Homecoming" week. During our visit, and especially at the homecoming celebration itself, we were blown away by the powerful, positive culture Polaris has built. Witnessing one of their eight grade students being named a Light Leader during the assembly gave me chills. Polaris teachers and students spoke beautiful words in support of this student being names a Light Leader, the entire school was chanting her name, and she led the community in their signature call and response: Polaris, rise up! Rise up! 

Our DAA team knew we just had to bring this tradition back to our own students and families in Detroit--we wanted to rally our crew around our Habits of Character, honor students who are leaders in the community, and pay homage to our amazing mentor school.

Friday, February 6th, 2015 was a historic day at Detroit Achievement Academy--we celebrated our first ever Light Leader during our Community Crew meeting! The fellowship hall was filled with students, families, staff, and even a few photographers who were there to document this milestone. Mrs. Boyer, our first grade teacher, spoke about this student's care for others and how she always helps to make everyone feel better when they are sad by giving them a hug and encouraging words. I shared about this student's patience and the way she always looks out for the best interests of our crew, even when it is hard. The room was filled with anticipation. When our principal, Mrs. Roesser, finally called the name of our first Light Leader, the DAA community was clapping and cheering for...Angelica!!!! The look on her face was a mix of surprise, joy, and pride as I took her hand and led her to the center of the circle. Ms. Smitley gave her a special edition Light Leader t-shirt, a blue and gold cape, and a torch with a bright orange flame. I marched with her around the circle while our DAA community chanted her name. When we finally made it to the stage, our Light Leader led us in our very own call and response: DAA! Achieve! DAA! Hopes and dreams!

Looking out into the crowd, and especially at Angelica's mother's happy face, I felt so proud, humbled, and lucky to teach such an amazing leader for the past two years. Congratulations, Angelica, on being a model of compassion and an inspiration to our crew.