Leading for the Common Good
Leadership Profile: Matt Michaud
Senior class president Matt Michaud ’19 may have earned one of the most visible leadership positions at Derryfield, but that does not mean that he has maintained a rigid and unchanging perspective on what leadership looks like. In fact, the annual student leadership summit, which he attended in 2017, played an important role in shifting his views. “I thought leadership was a lot easier before I went to the summit because I hadn’t really thought about all of the complex things that went behind it,” he says. Matt, who has run for class office positions since freshman year, found that the summit was the spark that ignited his success; he was elected junior class vice president for the 2017-2018 school year, and then 2018-2019 senior class president. He credits the three-day retreat for cultivating these exciting changes, "It definitely helped shape not only what my goals are, but how to listen to what people’s perspectives are and actually get things done.” A major component of the leadership summit, which has been organized and led by Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Llewelyn since 2015, is the intentional mixing of students who may not have strong connections at school. “One of the great things about the summit was that they put us together with people we hadn’t really talked to initially,” Matt says. As a result, he was exposed to a diverse range of ideas and points of view, an important factor in helping him shape his campaigns around an inclusive and truly representative platform: “Leadership is having the capability to act for a whole group of people while not only thinking for yourself. It needs to be humbling, and it’s very important to take into consideration all of those perspectives so that you’re best representing your class, for example.” The activities that the students engaged in at the summit were also helpful in restructuring Matt’s personal definition of leadership. They triggered a major realization regarding the way in which he approaches leadership: in addition to representing a group and acting selflessly, leaders must consider the hows of their plans. “We did an activity where we were assigned, based on our characteristics, to a leadership quality; that was really helpful in pursuing actions for our community and for gettings things done.” The activity allowed Matt to realize which realm of leadership he is best suited to, and how he can execute his ideas while capitalizing on those specific skills. Leadership is not limited to those in elected positions, however. Matt stresses that “I definitely believe that leadership is universally attainable by anybody. Leadership is transferable to classes, and sports, and a lot of extracurriculars.” Matt also practices leadership as the cross country captain when he welcomes new runners to the team and encourages them through hardship, something that other runners did for him when when he started that was hugely influential in growing his confidence: “Being a leader is being a role model and making it comfortable for everybody to participate.” Something as simple as kindness is vital in creating a culture of inclusivity, and you can be a leader simply by being the first to reach out to a newcomer, or by acting as a mentor for a struggling classmate. From class president to teammate to friend, Matt’s done it all.
Located in Manchester, NH, The Derryfield School is a private day school for grades 6-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.