With another school year underway, the Leadership Program at Mother Teresa Junior High School is starting its ninth year. This program has been successful throughout the years simply because it has been able to adapt, evolve, and cater to the needs of the students; first and foremost.

Words in Action (W.I.A.) - that’s what the program is all about”, explained Mr. Valerio Gazzola, teacher and coordinator of the leadership program, from the very beginning. “Every year we try to innovate and implement projects that are thought-out and executed by the students who are developing entrepreneurial skills. By working on hands-on projects, the students develop all the skills that we need to developing leadership skills; such as organizational skills, learning to delegate, developing problem solving skills, taking initiatives, being able to adapt to challenging situations, etc.”

Last April, the leadership students /program was awarded with two prizes, the Entrepreneurship Award by The CLD of Laval for implementing numerous projects and Mr. Gazzola additionally received an individual award for Prix Engagement en Milieu Scolaire recognizing his dedication and persistence with projects that develop entrepreneurial skills in our students. “This is the result of the determination that is employed by the students throughout the years. These awards are also a reflection of the support and collaboration by the school administration and support staff,” explained Mr. Gazzola.

Mrs. Villalta, the Principal of Mother Teresa Junior High School, added that, “We all benefit from the leadership program. It has become an integral part of our school culture. Only 64 students are recommended and selected to register and participate in the two year program starting in secondary 1 and we take pride in giving them the best tools possible to learn. We are proud to be taking responsibility to help create the leaders of tomorrow’s society.”

The program includes projects involving the entire school population of MTJHS such as the Terry Fox Walk, lunchtime activities and the like. The leadership program also services the elementary schools of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board such as The Genesis Elementary School soccer tournament for grades 4-5-6, including schools and students participating from Terry Fox, Souvenir, St. Paul and Saint Vincent. Leadership students have been invited by numerous elementary schools to animate and organize their Winter Carnival activities; namely at O.L.P. and Souvenir Elementary schools.

Aside from learning how to become animators, the students in the leadership program also follow a certified St. Johns Ambulance course since they are constantly involved in working with various groups from the elementary sector. The students then complete the two year program by attending and partaking in a three day recreational course based on leadership skills.

“The project I’m most proud of is the Grade Six Tournament where we get approximately 320 student participants from elementary schools (32 teams from approximately 8 elementary schools) for our hockey and soccer tournament. All this is organized by our 120 students in the leadership program” said Mr. Gazzola. He maintains that “A student that follows and completes the two year leadership program would have the background and qualifications to apply for a summer job as an assistant to a sports camp or day camp.”

This school year, being 2013-2014, the Leadership Program at Mother Teresa Junior High School will be celebrating its 10th year. It promises to be a special one as plans are already under way to organize a reunion for all the students that have participated in the program.