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Student Leadership Academy

Student Leadership Academy


Purpose - Service - Determination - Influence

The Etowah County Sheriff's Office (ECSO) Student Leadership Academy (SLA) was started in 2011.  The mission of the SLA is to provide a unique, practical, and educational experiences for future leaders of Etowah County, Alabama.

Program Description

The program is designed to be an intensive leadership development course for Etowah County students who are incoming high school seniors. 

Through a variety of classes, hands on interaction, and guest speakers, students will be introduced to:

  • Fundamental Leadership Principles
  • Personal Development Skills
  • Office of the Alabama Sheriff
  • Knowledge of the American Criminal Justice System
  • Career Opportunities in Government and Public service
  • Importance of and How to Develop Lifelong Fitness Habits
  • Interview and Job Application Skills

The weeklong event will survey the entire criminal justice process from:  law enforcement, the prosecutor, the public defender, the courts, and corrections.  The course will discuss the history and philosophy of the system and introduces various career opportunities.

Student Leadership Academy class          Student Leadership Academy attendees

Benefit to Student Participants 

In addition to the knowledge and experience gained from the week's activities, participants will also benefit from:

  • Etowah County Sheriff's Honorary Deputation
  • Program Completion Diploma
  • Future School/Job Reference Letter from Sheriff Horton
  • 3 hours of College Credit from Jacksonville State University
  • Possible Scholarship Opportunities 
  • Lasting Friendships and Memories

Student Leadership Academy dive
Student Leadership Academy marine

Location, Schedule, and Instructors

The SLA is based out of the ECSO Headquarters, located on Forrest Avenue in Gadsden.  Practical exercises will occur in the field throughout Etowah County.  Student's stay overnight throughout the week and lodging is provided. Participants are closely supervised by ECSO staff members.  

The tentative date is typically the last week of June each year.  Orientation begins on Sunday afternoon.  Each day starts with a class and activity to promote physical fitness.  The schedule is physically and academically demanding, starting at 5:45 a.m. and ending at 9:30 p.m.  The week concludes with graduation on Thursday evening.

Instructors and guest speakers are law enforcement professionals as well as noted leaders in government, business, and civic organizations. 

Student Leadership Academy participants


Candidates must be an incoming high school senior and must be nominated by their current high school principal. 

SLA is open to incoming high school seniors who meet academy requirements of:

  • Nominated by High School Principal
  • Minimum 2.5 Grade Point Average
  • Written Essay
  • Alabama Police Officer's Standards and Training Commission (APOSTC)  
  • Physical Ability Exam

Each nominee is evaluated based on demonstrated leadership, physical fitness, grade point average, and community service.  Due to the physical activity required, students will be required to submit proof of a physical exam conducted by a licensed physician within the last year.  One male and one female will be accepted from each of the twelve high schools in Etowah County; for a total of twenty-two student participants. 

Student Leadership Academy graduates 


The ECSO SLA is offered free to students through the generosity of many community sponsors and Sheriff's Office discretionary funding. Opportunities for sponsor recognition includes: program marketing materials, press releases, internet exposure, and other various options.


Graduates of the Etowah County Sheriff's Office Student Leadership Academy are considered part of the Sheriff's Office family.  Their commitment to give up a week in the summer time to be physically and academically challenged says much about the graduates listed on the following pages.  These individuals are great examples of purpose, service, determination, and influence to their peers and our community!