In mid-June, a group of students and five faculty members ventured to the Burr & Burton Academy Mountain Campus in Peru, VT for the fourthannual student leadership summit. Although the summits were initiated just three years ago as a means of increasing leadership opportunities for students, more than 100 past and current students have had the privilege of spending three days redefining their personal definitions of leadership and bringing change to the Derryfield community.
This year, as in past years, the three-day retreat involved utilizing beautiful and sustainable facilities that promote human connection and collective learning. Attendees participated in workshops and activities in the main lodge during the day, enjoyed the natural beauty of the Vermont woods, and slept in cabins at night. However, unlike previous summits, five faculty members were in attendance as opposed to two or three. The presence of Mr. Brandt, Ms. Boesch, and Ms. DiTullio in addition to Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Llewelyn diversified the perspectives represented and provided greater opportunity for faculty-student collaboration.
Ms. Llewelyn recounted the events of the summit, including “activities to help students recognize their spheres of influence, identify their homebase leadership style, and understand what leadership roles they may play in different situations. We talked about the importance of reflection and seeking feedback in increasing your self awareness, and played a lot of silly games (Big Booty was a favorite!) during the morning, afternoon, and evening ‘minutes’.” A central focus of the various workshops and group discussions was re-defining a leader as anyone who can step up and impact a community, not just someone giving orders or speaking the most. As such, students were prompted to create action projects for how they might make an impact, and thus practice leadership, at Derryfield.
Similar to how the PACTeam (Peer Awareness Community Team) was born out of the first leadership summit, this years’ participants were full of exciting ideas. “A group of athletes that were in attendance have planned a session for the athletic teams that will help teams communicate better,” Ms. Llewelyn says. “They will be talking about personal and team goal setting and peer and self leadership on the field and on the team. This is so exciting as it will be six students guiding 100 of their peers through activities that will help everyone become better leaders.” Similarly, “the group running the 8th grade session hopes to help the eighth graders recognize the influence they have in the community as the oldest students in the middle school. So again, a group of eight students will now turn around and share knowledge with a group of 40!” This is the ripple effect in full force.
The students returned from the summit enlightened, inspired, and ready for action come fall; the influence of summit attendees will no doubt be felt throughout the community, as about half of the 2019 senior class has taken part in the last three years and the numbers indicate this will be true for other grades by the time they are seniors. We look forward to the success of the 2018 action plans, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for future participants.