Flintridge Prep Ushers in New Year with Leadership Initiative
As Flintridge Prep starts the new school year, the administration is introducing a program that promises to expand the culture of leadership and community at the school. In the spring, Flintridge Prep received a full seven-year accreditation from the California Association of Independent Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, an endorsement of the school’s academic and human development programs. The accreditation revealed that leadership programs on campus are very successful. But these accolades also revealed a new challenge to make leadership training the purview of all students.
The new initiative, devised by Dean of Student Life Barrett Jamison and consultant Laura Campobasso of Progressive Strategies, recognizes that leadership is not limited to a position or a title. The pair conducted research and surveys to create a curriculum that will help all students develop a deep sense of self-awareness and strong self-management practices. Topics include team building, presentation skills, conflict resolution, reading non-verbal cues, time management and active listening.
“We’re proud of the leadership opportunities on campus, but it is important for us to design the initiative to work for all students. We also want a scope and sequence because you don’t learn these skills in a day. I’m very excited about the program’s potential,” says Headmaster Peter Bachmann.
Aspects of the curriculum were tested with 8th graders and 11th graders last spring, as well as through a summer school workshop, and the full scope and sequence will be unveiled beginning in the fall.
“We have already seen a new, individualized definition of leadership emerge. A leader could be the student who makes an observation that changes the conversation, or an intent listener who quietly voices an influential perspective,” says Jamison.
Nurturing new self-perceptions and potential is the goal. In one workshop last spring, small groups of students were given a case study about a dysfunctional team. The students were asked to repair the team without adding or removing any members. As a requirement of success, all members of the team had to share an equal amount of work. Each group came up with several good solutions—no two alike.
“This is not a cookie-cutter program. Each student will take away something different—it’s about learning to enhance your own way of using the skills,” says Campobasso. “What students leave with in the end is how each of them can be a leader in their own style. They realize, ‘even if I am not the team leader, I can use what I have to lead. I can use my voice for myself or give it to other students to speak up.’ That is the essence of the program.”
Peter Bachmann says the biggest differentiator for this program is that it is truly investigating the next frontier in human development while also creating a model that can be adopted by other schools. “In a generation of technology addicts, it’s easy to lose the balance,” he says, “Our students will graduate with technical and innovative skills as well as the habits of mind that will help them outpace their peers.”
Flintridge Preparatory School, 4543 Crown Ave., La Cañada Flintridge, (818) 790-1178 or visit www.flintridgeprep.org.