Inspiring the next generation of leaders

FRESNO, Calif.

This is the first time these high school juniors have ever met, but now they share a common bond as the first members of Fresno County's Office of Education - new Servant Academy.

Jim Yovino said, "Whether it's dealing with issues of bullying, gangs or poverty, we want to teach them how to go back and be givers in their communities and how to change the lives of students in their schools."

Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino says educators worked for a year to implement the program. Tuesday, many of them watched as the 54 students got to know one another.

"I want to help our school in every way that we can," said Mendota High School Student Fabiola Ochoa. "Encourage the students to do better because after high school this is it."

The students come from eight different schools across the county. Outside on Scout Island, they learned team building and how to rely on each other and even got in a few laughs.

Firebaugh High School Student Austin Lasalle added, "It gives students an extra learning activity that you learn leadership, you learn to cooperate and work as a team."

Educators say they want each student in the Servant Academy to be empowered as agents of change, now and in the future.

"How inspired I am," said Yovino. "Because each and every one of them walked into that room with a fire in their belly that they want to change their community and that's what we really want them to do."

From here, the students will continue to meet once a month for a full year. Educators say they can't wait to see what each student will bring to their schools and communities.

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