When Students Lead

By Craig Rodgers, St Leonard’s College IB Diploma Coordinator

One of the privileges of an educator is to collaborate with students in activities they love. An education for life is about fostering initiative, encouraging our students to embrace opportunities and shoulder responsibility.

This year, Senior School student-led projects have included the Programmers Guild (introductory and more advanced computer coding), BlossomMade (cosmetic pouch, necktie and scrunchie products supporting St Kilda Mums) and a new House soccer competition. Leadership is also being demonstrated through music instrumental music coaching and organising events like the Year 12 formal and the International Women’s Day Breakfast, and through the French Society which prepares Years 5 and 6 students for competitions such as Alliance Française. In all cases, students developed their ideas from concept through to implementation and, in doing so, serve others in our community.

Empowering students to lead enables valuable real-world learning. Organising and running events develops highly regarded soft skills. These include investigating a need, collaboratively developing and presenting cogent proposals to meet submission criteria; planning events with attention to specific roles, required materials and facilities; organisation with timelines including setting up and packing up; promoting activities and purposefully reflecting on progress with a view to continuous improvement. All of these skills are highly sought after by communities and employers. Practising the organisation and running of events in the safe, supportive school environment prepares students as worthy members of civil society.

Emerging adults have a strong desire for opportunities to take charge and lead. The IB Diploma Programme acknowledges this need by actively promoting students’ involvement in the activities they are passionate about through its CAS component (creativity, activity, service). Moreover, it mandates students to undertake collaborative projects of their own design. Specifically, projects with a focus on service are reviewed twice a year, in March and August. Extending this ethos, a comparable framework is in development for all Senior School students. This initiative recognises the importance of students’ contributions to the College and aims to nurture lifelong skills. The goal is for students to depart school with a comprehensive CV that highlights their active participation in both school and community endeavours, showcasing their development as capable leaders alongside their academic achievements.

While the genesis of the above-mentioned initiatives is attributed exclusively to students, it is incumbent upon us all to contribute to the cultivation of young entrepreneurs, coaches, mentors, and event organisers. Through these collective efforts, we empower students to take charge of their own paths, fostering leadership qualities that will serve them well into adulthood.