“We talk about what it means to be a leader, and to be introspective, and examine ourselves first before going out to be an example to others. We have challenging conversations about tough issues and vulnerable moments that make them stronger while building leadership skills.” –Elton Dixon
Enay Coaching started its mission to prepare emerging leaders through a Bible study with students from Valdosta State University.
“We started talking about Biblical principles of leadership,” says Elton Dixon, co-founder of Enay Coaching. “Our discussions centered on how through serving others, we grow and challenge ourselves.”
Servant-leadership is at the foundation of Enay Coaching, which Dixon and his wife, Adrienne, started in 2014, to provide education and workforce development services to businesses, organizations, school districts and families. Other Enay Coaching team members include Chioma Davis, Charlie Davis, Sloane Grey, Damian Grey, and John Shelton.
“We are far better described as a family than co-workers,” Dixon says. “Of all the things I experience as a leader, hearing and reading the incredible testimonials that come from parents, students, and other community members who have interacted with my teammates is one of the greatest thrills I could ask for.”
Dixon, a 1996 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, says, “We have an established training for businesses and then customize it based on their specific needs. Communication and leadership development are two main areas businesses seek training.”
Not a quick fix, Dixon says business training is a process that takes time. “We help companies create frameworks within their organization that specifically fit their needs. It’s not a microwave approach to get employees from point A to B; it has to be deliberate and built into the company’s culture.”
On the educational side, Enay Coaching provides a broad range of academic coaching and individualized tutoring services.
“Our academic coaching support goes beyond tutoring, which is when a student needs help with a specific area or skill,” Dixon says. “Academic coaching is the ‘whole picture’ approach where we are working with the student and parents to get career-focused.”
Enay Coaching’s certified, expert tutors work in all subject areas and grade levels. They also provide SAT, ACT, and Accuplacer preparation to assess college readiness.
Through classroom instruction, Enay Coaching provides character and leadership development programs.
“The classroom training prepares students to become better workers,” says Dixon, who serves on the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the South Georgia Workforce Development Board. “It allows them to start identifying their skills, and then through getting involved with clubs and organizations and through community and church activities they can expand their levels of interests and build more skills.”
Dixon often tells students, “Take on the jobs nobody wants, and then there will always be plenty of work. When you can excel at things you don’t necessarily like, you will become even more excellent with your skills and gifts.”
Part of Enay Coaching’s curriculum has been embedded within course standards for Georgia’s CTAE [Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education] Business Management and Administration-Finance Career Clusters.
“We were one of several companies selected to help write CTAE standards for Georgia’s middle schools,” Dixon says. “We promoted the importance of mentorship, networking, and extracurricular activity as ways to experience the business world in the classroom.”
In 2015, the Enay team started working with middle and high school students at Valdosta Early College Academy (VECA), a school within the Valdosta City School System that works in partnership with Valdosta State University.
“Dr. Brian Gerber, Dr. Mae McKinney, and Dr. Johnnie Marshall were gracious to invite us to work with students and share our leadership curriculum,” Dixon says, adding that this group eventually became VECA United, a multi-week leadership program for students nominated by teachers.
“We talk about what it means to be a leader, and to be introspective, and examine ourselves first before going out to be an example to others,” Dixon says. “We have challenging conversations about tough issues and vulnerable moments that make them stronger while building leadership skills.”
As part of Enay Coaching’s proprietary Legacy-minded Servant-leadership™ curriculum, VECA United students learn about the importance of being a team player and developing communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
“The series of lessons and challenges explore what it means to be a servant-leader,” Dixon says. “At the end, there is a capstone
activity, where we use a mobile rock-climbing wall to reinforce the leadership skills.”
After more than ten years of research and development of thought-provoking curriculum, Enay Coaching produced “Ascend Together,” a leadership guidebook for middle and high school students. The book, released in 2020, seeks to inspire teenagers to take on the challenges of the 21st century with integrity, courage, and compassion.
Based on the theme of a mountain climbing expedition, the book covers six modules and related activities that reinforce each principle. Along the way, participants earn badges and, upon completion, a certificate.
“Schools and/or school sponsors have purchased book sets to use with students in different settings, from school leadership clubs, to in-school suspension groups, to foster care group homes, and it has been a very effective resource for them.,” says Dixon.
The book started as a way for Enay Coaching to share its servant-leadership curriculum.
Dixon says he then asked some of the VECA United students to tell their personal stories. “We walked through the idea of them writing about the challenges they faced and lessons learned as they develop a servant-leader mindset.”
Abreauna Hadley, who graduated from VECA in 2020, shared how she developed a deeper understanding of teamwork through the Ascend curriculum.
“I thought about the life lessons I could share and immediately thought about soccer, which was a big part of my high school life,” Hadley says. “As a younger member of the soccer team, I watched as older girls ‘hogged the ball,’ trying to gain attention and applause for themselves.”
She writes in the book, “…I decided that the ‘ball hog’ strategy looked pretty good; I wanted to learn to keep the ball and dazzle the crowd with my skills, score the winning goal, and be the hero!
“I didn’t think of it then, but the plan that I learned by watching the older
girls did not have the success of the team in mind—it was full of pride and selfishness.”
Hadley, now a student at Valdosta State University, says, “I never thought of myself as a leader. I’m shy, but as I got more involved in volunteer activities, I found that you can lead through service.”
While “Ascend Together” is recommended for teenagers, the principles are applicable for the current workforce and speak directly to developing employability skills often referred to as “soft skills” like effective communication, teamwork, reliability, initiative, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
Proceeds from the sale of “Ascend Together” supports Enay Coaching’s work with youth in Georgia’s foster care system. Individuals and businesses may sponsor book sets for clubs and foster group homes. www.enaycoaching.com/the-book
Enay Coaching Team
A seven-member team, Enay Coaching provides education and workforce development services to businesses, organizations, school districts, and families. Chioma Davis leads family education services, as well as team training and development. Charlie Davis and Sloane Grey lead education support programs for group foster homes and also specialize in family education coaching. Damian Grey, also the owner of FilmStory, is over media & storytelling. John Shelton is our most experienced education coach, having retired from 31 years as a science teacher. Adrienne Dixon is a former Air Force finance specialist and is completing certification as a Chartered Financial Consultant, a key element of Enay Coaching’s upcoming projects.