Servant Leaders: Meet Our 2016 Washington Youth Tour Delegates
The high school students chosen to serve as Jackson EMC’s delegates for this year’s Washington Youth Tour June 9-16 have one thing in common; each student leader has a passion to serve others. As delegates, Zachary Miles, Elena Shao, Spencer Sumner and Georgia Warnock will travel to Washington, D.C., with 110 other Georgians and join more than 1,700 Youth Tour participants from electric co-ops from across the country as they embark on a leadership journey.
Meet the young leaders from our community who make up Jackson EMC’s delegation on the Washington Youth Tour.
ZACHARY MILES | Junior | Mountain View High School
“Leadership is all about serving others and keeping the people you are leading before yourself.”
You may have seen Zachary Miles’ name in print already. While only in his third year of high school, he’s already penning articles for the Gwinnett Daily Post. He also works the anchor desk at Mountain View High School.
“What impresses me most about Zach and his leadership is not the natural talent he possesses, the way people are drawn to him or even his ability to effectively solve problems. Zach has all of these, yes. Yet, the most impressive thing about Zach is his genuine care for people,” said 2014 Washington Youth Tour Delegate and Youth Leadership Council alum Michael Smith.
Zachary teaches 4th grade religious education at St. Lawrence Catholic Church. He helped build an outdoor classroom for a local elementary school. And when two high school students from a neighboring community tragically died in a car accident, he started the “Brown Bag Project” to collect spare change in brown paper bags for the family. He helped raise $692.82.
“I want to help as many people as I can to make a positive impact on the world,” he said.
Zachary is the son of Kristopher and Jennifer Miles of Dacula. He plans to study Broadcast Journalism at Notre Dame.
ELENA SHAO | Junior | Peachtree Ridge High School
“A leader’s greatest duty is to everyone else around them.”
Elena Shao wants to expand the platform for students to be heard. “I passionately believe in our ability to be positive and influential forces in a community,” Shao, a junior a Peachtree Ridge High School, said.
Shao has a powerful message and credentials. She’s in National Honor Society, Beta Club, took two prizes last year in the regional science fair, is first chair violin in the orchestra, CFA Leader Academy, Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, was on the team that raised $50,000 for Relay for Life, wins state-level art awards, takes multiple AP classes each semester and maintains a 4.0 GPA.
What makes her really excited is the work she does at the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta. “The first time I saw the beautiful chaos, the paint splatters on the walls and mismatched colors on the bulletin boards and the dozens of kids shuffling papers around in the homework room, was one of the few times I have felt truly energized and electric,” she said. Elena develops leadership modules for young elementary school students at the club, and works on team-building activities.
“She’s passionate about learning about the world and changing the world,” said Peachtree Ridge Language Arts Teacher Amber Stallings. “Elena excels as a scholar, contributes to her community, carries herself as a leader and displays tremendous personal character in every situation.” Elena is the daughter of Xinghua Liao and Yong Shao of Lawrenceville. She plans to study Public Policy at Georgia Tech.
SPENCER SUMNER | Sophomore | Gainesville High School
“Good leaders inspire others to reach their full potential.”
As an Eagle Scout, Spencer Sumner puts the Boy Scouting E.D.G.E. method — explain, demonstrate, guide and enable — to work in all facets of his life. A sophomore at Gainesville High School, he spends a lot of time sharing his knowledge with those around him.
To earn his Eagle award, he led a team of 20 scouts to build shelves for a homeless center so they could organize and store their donations.
Spencer spends a lot of time teaching others. As a lifeguard at Frances Meadows Aquatic Center, he teaches new swimmers. Serving as president of the Chess Club, he recruits new members and teaches them the game. As treasurer of his high school class, he leads. And as a state qualifier on the varsity swim team, he is surrounded by other athletes who learn from his example of hard work and dedication.
“Spencer has achieved great personal success, but he has done so as he provides an excellent example to his peers,” said GHS Swim Coach John Price. “He constantly encourages his teammates. He embodies another virtue of good leaders: he is willing to learn.”
Spencer says in working with others he encourages them to do their best. “I remind them their best gets better results," he said. “You have to try your hardest to get better results.”
Spencer is the son of Sean and Laura Sumner of Gainesville. He plans to study medicine at UNC Chapel Hall.
GEORGIA WARNOCK | Sophomore | West Hall High School
“A leader doesn’t do things for themselves; they do it for others. A great leader, they see a problem, they find a solution and they step up not for themselves, but for the betterment of the lives around them.”
Georgia Warnock is a sophomore at West Hall High School, but spends part of her day at the University of North Georgia as a dual-enrollment student.
Not only is she enrolled at both schools, she is tutoring her peers—at both schools. Obviously, she is excelling academically, but Georgia is also succeeding with her music. West Hall’s music director Ernie Phillips wrote, “I believe she will be a strong contender in your search for excellence.”
His confidence is understood. Georgia currently serves as principal oboe in the symphonic band, principal bassoonist in the concert band and she plays clarinet in the marching band. She also serves as Librarian for the program.
On Wednesday nights, Georgia packs bags for BackPack Love, a nonprofit ministry for kids in Hall County who need food over the weekend. Sometimes, she’ll help pack 500 bags. “I always think about how it would feel if I was in one of those kids’ situations,” she said. “This is worth my time.”
As both a high school and college student, member of multiple bands, active church member, lifeguard and tutor, among other things, Georgia said there isn’t much time left for TV. “I’m a little busy, but it’s nice to feel like I’m making a difference and doing things for my future.”
Georgia is the daughter of David and April Warnock of Gainesville. She plans to attend UGA and become a budget specialist.