(SAVANNAH, GA) As part of Bethesda Academy’s character and leadership development series, Savannah City Mayor Van Johnson recently visited Bethesda Academy to speak to current members of the high school classes about the importance of leadership, community involvement and strength during uncertain times.
Mayor Johnson is nationally recognized as an innovator and thought leader in youth development and engagement through his service of over 23 years as the Director of the Chatham County Youth Commission. Since that time, he has assisted cities and counties across the country in developing governmental youth leadership programs, including co-founding the Savannah Youth Council in 2004.
Senior member of the Student Council, Ivan Gooding was honored to introduce our Mayor to his fellow student body, teachers, staff, board and friends. Gooding met Mayor Johnson in 2018 when he joined the Chatham County Youth Commission under Johnson’s leadership.
“The mayor is a very visible public figure who is a gentleman of great distinction and has done a great job of leading our city in very critical times,” said Dr. Michael Hughes, President of Bethesda Academy. “We thought it would be an excellent opportunity for students to be exposed to him, his personality and his leadership style.”
In recent years, there has been a surge in civic engagement and grassroots activism by young people across the nation. Mayor Johnson’s speech encouraged students to focus not only on academics but also on resiliency while remaining positive and present in their communities.
“Trouble doesn’t always last. Out of crisis comes opportunity and creativity,” explained Mayor Johnson. “How to take what’s happening now and translate it into life lessons for the rest of their lives? Hopefully, it will inspire them to continue to work and continue to dream.“
Among the points he emphasized were the importance of fostering meaningful relationships between the city government and the police department, as well as the responsibility of individuals to practice good citizenship.
“I hope our students say, ‘I can be a leader like that someday too,'” said Dr. Hughes.
ABOUT BETHESDA ACADEMY
Founded in 1740, Bethesda Academy is the oldest child-care institution in the United States. Now it is a private day and boarding school for young men in grades six through twelve and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The 650-acre campus features a variety of athletic teams, a wildlife management and organic farming program and college preparatory curriculum. Through its “Lead The Way” initiative, students have access to exclusive integrated learning and leadership opportunities. For more information, visit www.bethesdaacademy.org or call 912.644.4376.