Leaders on Leading: A Conversation with Notre Dame Prep

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Margaret Schiavone performs in NDP’s event, Gym Meet.

Good luck finding one style of leadership at Notre Dame Preparatory (NDP), the all-girls’ Catholic school in Towson. There are at least 800 – one for each student and each leadership role, large and small, that she embraces as she pinpoints her passions.

The school’s organic leadership program is intentional. Mission-driven, leadership at NDP is woven into each new experience and opportunity and not limited to titles, election results, or a specific curriculum. “We hope each student gains a realization of her individual talents and gifts, embraces the concept of servant leadership, which is modeled in Jesus, and understands the impact each person has in transforming the world,” explains Headmistress Sr. Patricia McCarron, SSND.

Baltimore Fishbowl recently sat down with five NDP leaders for their thoughts on leading.

Q: How does NDP define leadership?

Jasmin Edrington ‘20: Anytime you can help lead others to accomplish a goal, I feel you are considered a leader.

Micah Ferguson ‘20: You don’t have to have a big voice to lead other people. To be a leader really takes someone who has faith in you.

Micah Ferguson, center, at the Association of Independent Schools (AIMS) Student Diversity Conference.

Q: How did your leadership grow at NDP?

Margaret Schiavone ‘19: Freshman year, I started practicing with the cross-country team and met seniors I looked up to. I am really passionate about cross country and ran for captain my senior year. My teammates and teachers definitely pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone. The traditions here also give lots of leadership opportunities, too. With Gym Meet, you join a committee and meet new people, get more involved, and lead your grade.

Samantha Farley ’23: I was considered a leader in elementary school before I started NDP. I loved helping people, and I really wanted to continue that at NDP. Being a leader is really easy here, because there are so many different options, and the teachers help you grow into those positions.

Samantha Farley

Jasmin: I always thought the leader was one person and that they were in charge of everything, made all the decisions and have all the ideas. I’ve learned that being a leader is more about learning from other people to make whatever you are trying to accomplish the best goal ever. At first, I thought I would be an environmental scientist, but now I want to do something where I can help others. Service has really inspired this. Being involved in Christian Community Awareness Program (CCAP), I’ve learned so much about the needs of others. It’s inspired me to see all the ways we can help, even as teenagers.

Gabby Bognet ‘21: You’re a different leader in different settings. In Student Council, I lead differently than I do in Spanish Club. I like organizing and being at the front, but I also like to collaborate and get input from lots of people.

Q: Does NDP support you as a leader?

Samantha: Absolutely. The teachers are amazingly supportive and are always there to show you all the different opportunities. Everybody is one big family.

Q: What have you learned about being a leader that surprised you?

Margaret: Being a leader doesn’t mean that you are the only one in charge. You are a leader because you have others around you, helping and supporting. I am more courageous than I thought I was.

Micah: I didn’t realize how much patience it would take to be a leader. When Jasmin and I started the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) our sophomore year, we didn’t realize how hard it would be to get everyone involved in something new. It really takes a lot of patience.

Jasmin: Our school is so welcoming with new ideas and bringing fresh things to the table. I feel that’s a special thing we have at NDP.

Jasmine Edrington played Mama Euralie in this year’s production of “Once on this Island.”

Samantha: I never truly understood why I enjoyed giving speeches until I came to NDP. I love having the courage to go up in front of people.

Gabby: Here, I learned about collaborative leadership and meeting people from all different walks of life and how to put that all together as a leader. People bring all their interests and involvement to whatever we’re working on. Everyone is a different leader in some kind of way. That’s what makes it so special.

Q: Have you changed as you’ve learned to lead? How?

Margaret: It’s given me the confidence to step up and try different positions and different things, small or large. [My leadership roles] have made me more confident in applying to college and interviewing for jobs. I was nervous the first day of my WINternship [NDP internship program], but I had already learned how to talk to adults. Applying those skills wasn’t hard for me, especially in a hospital setting where everything is moving quickly. Leading here has allowed me to get out in the real world and go with the flow.

Gabby: During my WINternship last summer in the NICU at St. Joe’s, we watched all the different nurses. They were doing routine things with the babies, but the doctors were the ones making the decisions. I saw my leadership at NDP in that situation and realized that I want to be the one making the decisions. That’s influenced my career path. I want to be a doctor. Leadership at NDP has helped me piece my passions together and all these different things that I am involved in into what I want to do with my life.

Micah: I realize that I don’t want to focus solely on science. I want to be in a government position where I am speaking for people. And collaborating with people way more about social justice. Being a leader here definitely inspired what I want my future to be.

Q: Does NDP’s all-girls’ setting affect your leadership?

Margaret: Yes, in good ways. Because we’re all girls, we can relate. NDP definitely strives for you to be the best, independent woman you can be in order to transform the world.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a leader?

Samantha: It’s the feeling when someone comes to you, and you know that you can help them. It’s an amazing feeling.

Jasmin: My favorite thing is being able to be with people. I like listening to others’ ideas. As a leader, I try to make it a circle, so everyone is welcoming  and involved. As a leader, you can move the conversation in different ways. It’s cool being a leader here.

For more information on NDP, visit www.notredameprep.com.

About the panel:

Gabby Bognet ’19: Student Council President for 2018-19, Gabby is also captain of the tennis team; tutors afterschool with the Refugee Youth Project at Moravia Park; and serves as an UMOJA counselor in NDP’s summer camp for children from public housing. She’s had WINternships in NICU at St. Joseph’s Hospital and at the two-week Pharmacy Camp at the Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Samantha Farley ’23: Student Council President for Middle Level, Samantha is also a STEAM representative (students who plan extra-curricular STEAM activities), a programmer for the Middle Level Robotics team, a member of the STEAM Club and Writing Club, and co-editor of Writer’s Block. In 2018, Samantha won a Silver Key in the Scholastics Arts & Writing Awards.

Micah Ferguson ’20: Co-founder of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the field hockey team and track team member is vice president of Diversity Council, a member of the Environmental Club, French Club, Gym Meet Dance Committee, and Speech and Debate Club. Micha is an UMOJA counselor as well. 

Jasmin Edrington ’20: In addition to co-founding Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Jasmin serves as treasurer and “junior at large” for CCAP, NDP’s service organization, and treasurer of People for Animal Welfare. Active in the NDP theater and music program, Jasmin is co-chair of Song Committee for Gym Meet and in the Speech and Debate club.

Margaret Schiavone ’19: A senior with plans to study nursing, Margaret plays badminton and runs cross country. She’s is president of the Athletic Association, serves on the Gym Meet Aerobics Committee, participates in the UMOJA service club, is on Campus Ministry, and did two NDP WINternships (one internship with a dermatologist and another in St. Joseph’s Hospital labor and delivery department).

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