Student Leadership Through Service Learning

Student Leadership Through Service Learning

by Jérémie Rostan, DP Psychology teacher and School-wide Service Learning Coach

Although only just over one month has passed since the beginning of the school year, service learning is already up and running throughout the school. As is our tradition, Grade 5 classes have been handed over the organization and promotion of the Wonderfuit Wednesdays campaign, which supports those living with food insecurity just down the hill from our campus. Inspired by the story behind this partnership with the Chiku Center, which was initiated by a student many years ago, our young learners did not miss the leadership opportunity available to them, stepping up to join the elementary service learning committee and attending last week’s Student Leadership Retreat. During this event held in both elementary and secondary school, students in positions of responsibility learned from ES Service Learning Coordinator, Virginia Zamora Lopez ,and senior administrators about young role models from around the world and discovered the fundamental practices associated with effective leadership. In the picture below, they can be seen writing their personal mission statements after exploring their ikigai, a Japanese concept combining one’s passions, skills, and opportunities to serve others. 

high school students in an auditorium reflecting on the Japanese term ikigai

Secondary students reflect on the Japanese concept of ikigai to guide their leadership skills.

elementary students in a classroom with a teacher showing them a presentation on leaders

ES Service Learning Coordinator, Virginia Zamora Lopez, speaks to students about leadership.

high school students sitting in a group making plans for their service learning team

Secondary School students make plans for leading their service learning teams.

This activity was part of the second session of the retreat, based on the 3-Levels model, which states that leadership stems from self-awareness and self-direction. In line with this training, our goal this year is to help all of our students regain, through service learning, the agency they have been deprived of in other areas of their lives by the pandemic. This will be the case for the vast majority of our high school students who have already signed up for an after-school service learning team, including new choices such as a Red Cross or Second Chance (recycling shop). One of these new student-led initiatives, the Amnesty International service learning team, has already found a classroom connection in the form of a Grade 10 English unit during which students learn about persuasive writing by participating in the “Write for Rights” campaign. Our middle and elementary school learners will have similar opportunities through lessons empowering them to enact positive change in a safe, socially distanced, but effective and educational manner. This includes new partnerships, such as the ones that will see our Middle School tutor groups become writing buddies with orphans from around the world thanks to Paper Bridges, organize a personal leadership challenge in support of the hospitalized children served by Shine On, and raise funds for a special needs school in Cambodia through Epic Arts. Working with the PTSA and its new Service Learning Liaison, Mrs. Sina Krickhahn, our school community will also be given the opportunity to come together - virtually - for a night of social action and artistic performances. With initiatives already well underway, the roll out of our new service learning programs will only gain steam with the move to our new campus, which will open new avenues for our students to engage with the community and, through teamwork and personal leadership, become the very best they can be.

School leadership speaking to students about leadership.

 Head of School, Craig Coutts and Secondary School Principal, Liz Andrews, speak to
students about the skills and attributes of a leader.