Chad Gee is the principal of Comanche High School, and last year he created a group of junior and senior students called The CHIEFS.
“The CHIEFS program is extremely important to me and something I want to not only see last but continue to grow here in Comanche ISD. The reason I created it is because I have witnessed children being influenced by their peers into making choices that affect their futures at younger and younger ages. They are choosing to make poor grades so they don’t appear smart or they won’t tell a person in authority when another student is doing wrong because they don’t want to be labeled a snitch.
“These instances as well as numerous more led to the program and when I came to Comanche the idea of CHIEFS (Commitment, Honor, Integrity, Excellence, Fearless, Service) came to mind. The key to me is the Fearless aspect of the acronym because I want our older students to show that it is alright to stand up for what you believe in and that making smart decisions and good grades doesn’t make you an outcast.
“I also believe that our students here in the high school can have an unbelievable impact on the lives of younger students in our district often much more so than adults can. I also believe that the older students receive so much more from this interaction than they ever would believe possible from participating in the program.”
So exactly what do the CHIEFS do? These students go into a freshman level teen leadership class every Tuesday and Thursday, where they act as group leaders, facilitating discussions on topics such as the qualities a leader should possess. They also discuss different aspects of students’ lives, the point being to help the younger students open up and communicate, while gaining more confidence in themselves.
“Then we go to the middle school MWF during that leadership class period and act as student teachers,” Colten Jones shared with me. “Once the kids got used to us being in their classroom, they started feeling comfortable asking us for help on their work.
“I had never realized that one teacher just can’t really answer every question from every student in a room. We answer questions about their class work, whatever that happens to be. [There aren’t many who understand this!]
So, how were students chosen to be CHIEFS, and what is the goal of the program?
“We had to be approved for the CHIEFS program through a group interview, and we are not all the straight A students. It’s not about putting the smartest people out there, but rather about choosing people with the best intentions to mingle with the younger kids. As far as the goal, it’s just about being a good influence on younger children.”
And having shared my older students with the elementary school for years, I know exactly what that means. If younger children can see those they deem as “cool kids” being intelligent, decent, etc. it makes them understand that being kind, caring, and intelligent is what makes up a cool kid!
Of course, I wanted to know if he has gotten anything out of the program.
“Patience…little kids aren’t on the same level as we are, and it is very different from talking to someone my own age or older. I have to try to think like them, and that takes patience, especially because they are always asking why.
“It can be a pain some days, but overall, it is as much for us as it is for them. We get as much as we give. It can be pretty humbling to see that some of those little kids don’t have it all that great, and you are made to realize that. Just showing them a little bit of attention, even if it is as simple as helping them with their schoolwork, can tell us that they don’t get that attention at home. They kind of light up a little bit, and they feel good about themselves, making us feel good too.
“Plus, you go to high school and there are not that many people particularly happy to see you. Those little kids are always happy to see us, rain or shine.”
And I think we’ll leave it there with the Comanche CHIEFS who are obviously doing a great job.