At Holton, we develop leaders who make the world a better place. You do not need to spend long in Lower School to know this is true! Our Lower Schoolers are optimistic, caring, and motivated students who see no reason to wait to be leaders in the future when they can be leaders now! By providing them opportunities to lead throughout Lower School, students grow and develop the skill sets that are essential for being successful leaders of the future. We designed the Learn Well, Live Well, Lead Well (LW3) philosophy of education at Holton to build the essential skills necessary to be effective leaders. Resting on the pillars of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, Health and Wellbeing, and Global Competence, the LW3 goals serve as a framework to ensure our students develop the wide array of skills necessary to lead in a “complex and changing world.”
Throughout our curriculum, we create opportunities for students to build important leadership skills. During Morning Meeting and Advisory, students learn to be active listeners and to ask open-ended thoughtful questions. Across all subjects, teachers develop critical thinking skills, asking students to support their claims with evidence, consider multiple perspectives on the same topic, and conduct research with reputable resources. Because we know that influential leaders understand the dimensions of their own identity and are thoughtful about the ways that their identity informs their interactions and decisions, we structure lessons and activities across subject areas for students to explore these ideas. For instance, in the sixth grade LW3 seminar class, students explore the many aspects of their identity, reflect on their personal and family values, and consider how these components factor into their decision making. Working together to explore scenarios, the students determine an array of possible decisions they could make and then consider the positive and negative consequences that could stem from each decision. In Seminar, Morning Meeting, and Advisory, we also explore with students the many small ways they can show up as leaders each day that have BIG impacts. Students learn that positive leaders are confident in themselves and act as Upstanders when they see unkindness or injustices. We practice with students the words and actions necessary to stand up to peers when they hear someone saying something unkind about another person, notice peers exhibiting exclusive behaviors, or see someone about to make a decision that is unsafe or could negatively affect themselves or someone else.
Throughout Lower School, beyond our core curriculum, we believe in the importance of providing leadership opportunities for our students. Below are a few examples:
- Student Council, which was proposed to me five years ago by a group of students, acts as an important way for our students to develop leadership skills. First, all students benefit from considering if this is a role that they would like to take on and for the many students who do run, they develop a platform, turn their ideas into a speech, and share that speech with their growing public speaking skills.
- Those members elected to student council learn what it means to not just share their own ideas but to represent the ideas of their homeroom by creating a suggestion box to elicit input from their peers. Based on suggestions last year, student council members created and maintained a buddy bench, which made a more inclusive environment at recess.
- Our sixth-grade leaders take on the role of safety patrols. This role teaches them to be responsible, welcoming, and engaged in the community. To increase their roles as leaders, this year we have paired sixth graders together to emcee Gathering. Each sixth grade pair shares fun facts, reminds students about our Gathering Norms, and introduces the day’s speakers.
- Our Common Threads groups show their leadership in Gathering by sharing with the community aspects of their group, such as important holidays, that help the community learn and grow.
- Classroom jobs allow students in every grade level to be responsible for the care and running of the classroom, and gain an appreciation that we all have a role to play in supporting our community.
As we thought about our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we wanted to take time for our growing leaders to practice gratitude. Successful leaders know the value of sharing their appreciation with others, ensuring those around them feel valued, and that expressing gratitude has a positive impact on one’s own life.
This last week, Lower School students and teachers worked on a Tree of Gratitude display. Tap thhrough below to view their notes!
During Parent-Teacher conferences, I spoke with a parent about some of the wonderful ways that I have seen our Lower Schoolers step up to be leaders this year. The parent commented to me that hearing about our amazing students gave him “hope for the future.” I couldn’t agree more - these strong, earnest advocates who stand up for their convictions while also taking time to explore and truly listen to other’s perspectives gives me great hope each day for the future ahead. As we approach Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on what we appreciate and are grateful for, I would be remiss not to share my deepest gratitude with each of you for sharing your future leaders with us.