Acquiring leadership skills has always been an important component of the Calvert School
experience. However, in recent years, the focus on teaching leadership has become more intentional.
Five years ago, the task of writing and giving Reflections speeches was introduced to the Eighth Grade curriculum. The program is led by Eighth Grade Chair Jay Parker and partners students with faculty mentors to develop and present a topic that has strong meaning to them as an individual. Mr. Parker and Angel Menefee, Middle School Teacher, also coach each student to help hone their public speaking skills. The Eighth Graders deliver the speeches to the entire Middle School student body and serve as an example of what younger students should strive to achieve. Reflections speeches are the cornerstone of the Leadership Development curriculum.
Last spring, Calvert School hosted the AIMS Middle School Student Leadership Conference, which featured Seventh and Eighth Grade students delivering presentations to students and teachers from peer schools and facilitating panel discussions around leadership skills. This year, several elements of leadership training have been added to the curriculum for students. These include asking Seventh Grade students to spend one quarter working on a leadership project; these are admissions, extracurricular, or community service based activities. This quarter, one group of students is serving as ambassadors for Calvert-in-Action and promoting and leading the Middle School Fall Fresh Food Drive.
Meanwhile, Eighth Grade students will focus on serving as student leaders of the school. Last spring, rising Eighth Graders were encouraged to apply to be a part of a new student government format, one that increases engagement and encourages ownership and participation. As a result, 28 students now serve on several student-led committees that focus on tasks such as yearbook, diversity, school spirit, and admissions. These students will also serve as leaders for our upcoming All-School Buddy Days, as well as the Student Leadership Conference in February.
At the heart of this program is the idea that student leadership should be directly linked to student activities. Mr. Parker, says “Leadership can be taught, just like other fundamental skills. The key is tying it to tangible actions for practice and empowering students along the way.”
Originally posted on the Calvert School website 10/7/2015.
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