Spartanburg Methodist College will be the beneficiary of a locally trained leader this coming fall. Kelsie Rhodes, a 2014 graduate of James F. Byrnes High School, will be an incoming freshman at SMC. Rhodes is a former participant of the Spartanburg Academy for Innovative Youth Leadership (SAIYL) program.
The SAIYL program was established four years ago as a leadership program for rising sophomores in Spartanburg County schools. The City of Spartanburg program is designed to offer high school students the opportunity to learn essential leadership skills, understand the workings of local government and become purposefully engaged in community service. The program is now available to rising 9th graders also and this past summer, the City partnered with District 7 schools.
Over the course of the intensive 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, six-week program, students focus on different aspects of leadership and teambuilding; explore opportunities for personal career tracks; gain an understanding of local government organizations and their specific duties, including the relationships among local, county, and state governments; and are exposed to critical life skills issues and issues in general that affect the community of Spartanburg and South Carolina as a whole.
According to Mitch Kennedy, City of Spartanburg’s Director of Community Services, whose department oversees SAIYL programming, “SAIYL provides a hands-on approach to leadership training. Students are exposed to and develop leadership skills demanded by an increasingly globalized world. Rather than reading about leadership, SAIYL students are engaged in a problem and project-based learning environment that encourages the development and appreciation of leadership skills. The City hopes to instill and foster positive attitudes and develop internationally-minded, locally-engaged young leaders.”
At the completion of the six week leadership program, SAIYL students receive an IPAD and a $1,000 scholarship for college, which becomes available upon graduation from high school and enrollment in college. Rhodes, the daughter of Hilton Hunter and Stephanie Rhodes, will be studying psychology at SMC.