With only a few weeks left in the summer break, a group of 250 high school and middle school students are learning how to empower themselves, and their peers.
Teachers and administrators selected students in leadership roles and those who otherwise exert influence over other students.
The group is the inaugural class of Bibb County's Envoy Program through a school reform group out of Massachusetts called the Efficacy institute.
The initiative is part of the "Macon Miracle" strategic plan. Barbara Logan, the Efficacy Institute director of school services and training said their work has three goals-- boosting academic proficiency, developing a system to achieve success, and changing the mindset that only certain students are predisposed to success.
"Once people believe that," said Logan, "then one of the natural reactions is people stop putting in effort. They stop trying because, 'why would I bother to try, I didn't get it, whatever the fancy 'it' is that leads to learning.' So what we're doing here is unveiling that, and helping people understand that that is not the truth."
"I feel great. I feel like I have the opportunity ot learn more," said 16-year-old Keamber Chester of Westside High.
"I really feel good about it because it means someone looks at me as a leader," said Westside senior Kaelin Tharpe.
Both said their favorite part of the camp has been learning to juggle. It's one of the activities that model lessons the envoys carry into the school year.
"It's just like life," said Tharpe. "When there's something you don't know how to do, you might fail one or two times but you have to keep doing it and trying and trying and you'll get better."
"Do your best, don't give up. And if you feel like you can't do it, just keep trying. Have confidence that you can achieve what you're doing," said Chester.
Lyons said they have seen good results with the 1,300 envoys in Memphis, the first location of the project.
"Envoy students are outperforming the district," said Logan. "Envoy schools are starting to have better trends in what's happening in culture and climate."
She says they are still tabulating performance data from envoy schools in 2011 to compare to 2010, the first year of the project.
The individual envoys will be monitored for improvements in performance, attendance, conduct, and other markers. Logan says, so will the schools.
"Are we seeing things like a greater return in homework? Are we seeing students redoing assignments? Is there a change in the effort that kids are putting forth?" says Logan.