Learning the values and tools of positive leadership and promoting doing good for others were main agenda items on a field trip checklist for Thomas County Central High School’s chapter of the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy.
Eighteen members visited the restaurant’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta on Monday, Oct. 21. Students took a backstage tour and heard stories about the history, culture and values of the company’s founder, S. Truett Cathy. Also, they learned about the Truett Cathy family business model responsible for the establishment of Chick-fil-A, a Fortune 500 company.
“I wanted to take the students on this trip so they would be exposed to a highly successful business model that is based on foundational truths, principles or values that are bigger than any one company,” chapter sponsor and TCCHS Service Learning Coordinator Lt. Col. Stann McLeod said. “For example, Mr. Cathy's legacy principles, as displayed at their corporate office, are: be a good steward; build long-term relationships; provide hospitality; take personal responsibility; choose personal influence over position power; and, have fun!”
Sophomore Gaelle Gasque, 15, joined the school’s leader academy chapter to be a part of something bigger.
“[It] gives me a chance to contribute to something larger than myself,” she said. “I am able to learn leadership skills while helping others develop and fine-tune their skills.”
Her favorite part of Monday’s trip was the hospitality she experienced.
“Overall, everyone was extremely welcoming,” Gasque said. “It was truly eye-opening to learn about the development of the company and about everything they do to help others out.”
Sophomore Dawson Carver, 16, joined the TCCHS chapter because leadership has been ingrained in him since childhood. He, too, was impressed with the group’s treatment.
“I enjoyed the service, in both the tour and the food catering,” he said. “I've always admired how the workers were toward customers at a local establishment. And it was no different during the trip. The tour guides were extremely helpful and nice, and those who cooked and served the food were very gracious.”
Attendees feel impacted by their trip experience. For instance, Carver left with more knowledge about the company.
“I've learned how training is handled, how the food is created and ideas are thought up, and how much good the Cathy family has been able to do for so many communities,” he said. “It was especially great to see the Christian aspect of the company. That alone was amazing to me.”
Gasque learned the importance of being a servant leader.
“If the trip to headquarters taught me anything, it is that small acts of kindness go a long way,” she said. “I learned the importance of developing real relationships with your clients. I believe this trip was truly formative. It opened my eyes to the countless possibilities that are within reach. Someday, I hope that I will be lucky enough to work at a place like the CFA headquarters.”
McLeod plans to tie in Chick-fil-A’s emphasis on servant leadership as a model for academy students to follow as they plan their remaining service projects: Do Good December and the big, year-end Impact Project. And he’s glad so many members got to experience this trip.
“Bottom line, students were able to see firsthand how the concept of servant leadership has set the example for American business enterprises as well as for families in our local community,” he said.
The trip so inspired Carver that he plans to apply to work with the local Chick-fil-A and use lessons learned to aid his community.
“I plan to work at the Chick-fil-A here in town, and maybe through there and the leader academy, I can help the communities of Thomas County and the city of Thomasville.”