By Jeff Carlucci
SBS High School English Teacher
When we consider leadership, we need to be sure we are careful not to limit the assignment of the title leader to only a few special people, or only a few, very elevated positions in business or culture. We all have opportunities where we are called to lead, or we have leadership responsibilities. These include leading a family, leading a business, leading a Bible study, or leading an organization. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, every person is called to lead themselves. This understanding of self-leadership, or as we call it at StoneBridge School, self-government, is the foundation of leadership. So in response to the question, How does StoneBridge School teach leadership?, my first thoughts go to this understanding of how, from preschool through 12th grade, we teach our students the importance of self-government.
Self-government is the key to StoneBridge School’s student leadership program and lays the foundation for their future success.
Self-government has a different implication than self-control. Self-control connotes the sense of wrestling to do what we ought against our wills. Self-government connotes the sense of being the governor of my decisions, having the authority to choose what is right. Now I recognize there are times when we know what we ought to do and yet struggle to do the right thing. When I pass by a plate of scrumptious chocolate chip cookies, it is a struggle to control myself and not pick up one, or two, or five; but in reality, I have the authority to govern myself in that matter and to do what I ought. In leading ourselves, we are not struggling against ourselves, but governing ourselves to make Godly, righteous decisions. Hence, self-government is needed prior to leading others.
Further, when we teach our students that their “conscience is the most sacred of all of their property,” we are laying the foundation for holding themselves accountable to a Godly standard and choosing to govern themselves. We are teaching them the foundation of good leadership. Imagine a leader who is first focused on how accountable they are prior to holding others accountable. Geoffrey Chaucer describes the Parson in The Canterbury Tales in the following manner: “He gave this noble example to his sheep: that he practiced first and preached afterwards.” Chaucer is exemplifying a humble leader. We find the same result by teaching our students the principles of self-government and “the sacredness of their conscience.”
What are other ways StoneBridge helps students develop into excellent leaders?
StoneBridge’s high school has had a prefect program for more than 25 years. In this program, students are given various levels of authority to serve the school and their classmates. Prefects serve in different areas including athletics, spiritual life, property, technology, worship, social life, communications, and hospitality. The students assume responsibilities, under the guidance of administration and faculty, and learn to lead in those areas while serving the student body. An example of this is seen in our student-led worship team that leads worship at our weekly chapels. The worship team is led by a student prefect to prepare and rehearse for each week’s chapels. They are guided and mentored by a faculty member in this process. All prefects have faculty or staff who meet with them to guide them and are available to mentor them in their leadership.
There are other opportunities to lead in clubs, student government, drama productions, and athletics. We encourage our students that leadership does not require a title and that all of them should look for opportunities to lead.
Additionally, the awards given at the end of each athletic season reflect StoneBridge School’s commitment to character development and leadership. While many schools and athletic programs focus on the most valuable player, or the leading scorer, or even the most outstanding player, StoneBridge School gives the following awards: the Most Improved Award; the Loyalty Award; the Perseverance Award; and the Leadership/Servanthood Award. These awards are designed to highlight the character displayed by the individual athletes. The description of the Leadership/Servanthood award is illustrative of this.
This is the athlete who considers the needs of other teammates and the coach above his own needs. This person gives inspiration to others, displays self-government, flexibility, and sacrifice, shows the way by going first, and demonstrates a victorious spirit all season. It is a reflection of the Scripture:
…whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be the first must be your slave…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve. — Matthew 20:26-28
There are two elements of the leadership training at StoneBridge School that are generally understood but necessary to point out. First, the teachers and administration at SBS give the student leaders room to lead. We recognize that whether it is on the soccer pitch or on the worship team, when students lead, the result may lack the polish an adult would bring. This is perfectly acceptable. How can the students learn to lead without the opportunity, and what better opportunity to instruct and guide than when something has not gone well? Remember, the goal is the growth in the student, not in the perfection of an event.
The second understood element is that there is an expectation of each student being capable of becoming an outstanding leader, taking responsibilities and executing everything necessary to lead well. I have seen that the students often respond to the expectations given them.
Coupling the room to lead with an expectation for outstanding leadership generally results in the student developing into an exceptional leader. Finally, each student is an individual, created in the image of God, with differing gifts and strengths. As we consider leadership training in a tutorial manner, we look for all of our students to express leadership in the venues and capacities that reflect who they are in Christ.
The mission of StoneBridge School is to restore the Christian character of the Republic. We serve Christian families, enabling each child to reach the fullest expression of his value in Christ through a biblical Principle Approach® education. Our students will go into many varied areas as they proceed through college and into the rest of their lives. We believe that as each student develops as a humble, servant leader who lives a life of integrity before their family, friends, peers, and colleagues, they will be used to restore Christian character in the areas where God has placed them. •