Responsibility, respect and ambition were just a few of the topics covered when the Maryville Jen School hosted a Teen Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, March 19, featuring the Next Generation of Leaders (NXG), a community and education-driven outreach program.
Founded by music industry executive Michael Mauldin in 2008, NXG was created to engage youth in tangible, long-term commitments to help them prepare to be tomorrow’s leaders. NXG also addresses the disparities that have created barriers for young people in urban underserved and low-income areas.
Mauldin appeared with a panel of music industry guests from “Let’s Dance – The Tour 2016.” These included rappers Silento, iLoveMemphis, and Chicago’s own DLOW, along with artists such as We Are Toonz, 99 Percent, Team NueEra, Double J, and the Scream Team Dancers. NXG partners with artists in order to bring attention to issues that impact young people today.
“This kind of presentation allows us to speak to our students in a different voice,” Maryville Jen School Principal Ann Craig said. “The kids listen to this music and because the artists relate to our kids and know where they’re coming from, the message has a profound impact.”
The Teen Town Hall Meeting was co-hosted by Mauldin and William Kellibrew, an international advocate for human, children and victims’ rights. Audience members were introduced to NXG’s “12 Codes of Leadership” which outline the characteristics of a leader. An open dialogue followed and teens were encouraged to share issues that had challenged them in the past, including the loss of a parent, homelessness and urban violence.
This was a return visit to the Jen School for Kellibrew, who gave a similar presentation there in 2014. “William is a victim of gun violence,” Craig said. “When he was ten years old, he saw his mother’s boyfriend shoot and kill his mother and his brother in the family’s home. However, he tells young people that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what challenges you’ve faced – you can become a leader. That’s what we focus on here at the Jen School as well.”
The Maryville Jen School provides specialized academic and vocational opportunities for young men experiencing academic, emotional, behavioral or cognitive challenges that can potentially limit their life success. To learn more about the Jen School, please call 847-390-3020.