Derryfield’s “Leading for the Common Good” campaign has certainly delivered results. Created with the goal of involving all Derryfield students in leadership development experiences and fostering influence, character, and awareness, the initiative has seen hundreds of students participate in conferences, retreats, and activities. However, prior to the 2019-2020 school year, Derryfield lacked a program that would expose students to a cohesive curriculum focused on leadership and life skills in 6th-12th grades.
LEAD stands for “Leadership, Ethics, and Development” and is a key feature of the new academic vision implemented this fall. Through the program, students in grades six through 12 will engage in “intentional” and “age appropriate” curricula that is meant to foster personal growth and prepare them to navigate adolescence and adulthood. LEAD is more than just a crash course in how to be a leader. The courses for each grade, which will meet once or twice during the eight day class cycle, incorporate topics related to social-emotional and physical health, as well as team building.
Teams of faculty members will teach each grade’s LEAD courses, and the curriculum for each grade is structured around a specific theme: sixth grade is “breaking the ice,” seventh grade is “embracing community,” eighth grade is “self-advocacy,” ninth grade is “identity,” 10th grade is “belonging,” 11th grade is “influence/immersion,” and 12th grade is “purpose.”
According to Mrs. Llewelyn, Director of Student Leadership and Service, students might explore everything from study skills to cultural awareness and inclusivity to personal wellbeing and class culture. They will grapple with questions such as, “Who am I?”, “What do I bring to my community?”, “Where am I going?”, and “How do I get there?”. As they progress through middle and high school, students will increase awareness of themselves, the roles they play in their environment, and their goals for the future.
Hours of researching, conferencing, consulting, and interviewing went into the planning and preparation for the LEAD program, which was led by Mrs. Llewelyn, Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Barnard, Ms. Leclerc, Mr. Hastings, and Ms. Perkins. While Leading for the Common Good is an umbrella title for Derryfield’s leadership program, Mrs. Llewelyn shared that the LEAD courses were designed as the best way to manifest the goals of the program in an “intentional, informed way.”
After completing the program, faculty hope that students will have improved their class dynamic, developed skills for purposeful leadership both inside and outside of school, gained a baseline understanding of personal health and wellness challenges, and have become better at managing stressors. While the specific topics addressed in each grade differ, the goals for the courses are the same: LEAD is meant to build a more conscious, intentional community in which individual students are self-aware, contributing citizens better equipped to handle the experience of growing up.