Nurturing and Empowering Young Leaders

Annual Leadership Summit for Kindergarten and Grade 3, 6 and 8 Students

John F Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” At Inly, we take this sentiment seriously. For the past 10 years, we have run a Leadership Summit on the day before school opens, with the young leaders in our community: members of Kindergarten, Grade 3, Grade 6, and Grade 8 classes. These are the students at the top of their three-year multi-age classrooms.

The mix of students is a critical piece of the Summit’s success. Younger students not only get the chance to spend time with older counterparts, but they gain confidence from being in a peer group together. Older students have a chance to flex their leadership muscles and mentor the younger ones. This type of multi-age learning is a foundation of the Montessori philosophy and an important aspect of Inly’s community.

At the start of this year’s Summit, held on September 4th, Head of School Donna Milani Luther explained the responsibilities that go along with being the “senior” students at each level. “What does it mean to be the ‘top dog’ class in your level? It means extra responsibility. We are expecting you to be leaders and to help the other children in your classroom in a respectful way.” The three-year cycles in Montessori schools allow older children to take on the role of mentor and role model to younger children.

Through initial conversation and activities, students discussed the names of leaders they know or have read about and explored the qualities of those leaders. Then, we talked about leadership opportunities in our school and our classrooms. We thought about personal qualities that we contribute to the school and our classrooms as young leaders. In small groups, students identified qualities that come naturally to them and those that they would like to work on.

What are Leadership Qualities?

And which are the most important ones in school community? Here are some of the qualities that our older students discussed:

  • Being a good role model
  • Enabling and encouraging those around you
  • Working hard
  • Listening
  • Strong public speaking skills
  • Situational awareness
  • Confidence
  • Cool-headedness
  • Working for the greater good
  • Collaboration
  • Taking risks
After creating pictures and/or emojis to remind them of the attributes they will bring to their leadership work, teachers designed activities for each age group.  Our students then practiced their leadership skills in a variety of team situations and role-plays that underscored their leadership abilities and goals.
What a great way to start the year. We are so impressed with our young leaders and know that our Summit will lead the way to some extraordinary work through the 2018-2019 school year, and beyond!

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