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Pride in our Student Leadership

By Bill Mulcahy, Head of Lower School

I have seen leadership described and defined in many different ways. Some definitions focus most on influence, while others focus on vision or impact. My favorite definition of leadership, which resonates most with me, is "Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, toward the achievement of a goal."

Like many others, a few names come to mind when I think of extraordinary leadership. My first grade teacher, Carol Cox, embodied the definition of leadership above. Like great teachers, she created a culture of excellence in her classroom that elevated others and helped them do what they didn’t previously think was doable, all while working toward a common goal. She knew the impact and influence that she had on others, and brought her best self. She made it feel special to be in her class—so special that even as a six year old—I remembered my good fortune to have her. 

Our students at Country Day, as young as our Lower Schoolers, demonstrate leadership often in the way they model positive choices, collaborate with one another, and work together to accomplish shared goals.

In 4th grade, our students study leadership throughout the school year, and sharpen their leadership skills throughout the school in a variety of ways. One example is our Lower School Town Hall meetings for grades 1st–4th grade.

The Town Hall meetings developed from a desire to be together as a Lower School community and to empower our 4th graders to be leaders by developing and then leading the Town Halls. A recent theme was “We Respect Others” which is one of our Lower School core values. Our student leaders sang, performed skits, and taught our Lower School community ways in which they can show respect at school and at home. As if their confidence and poise presenting in front of 500+ people wasn’t impressive, I was so amazed with the planning that went into the assembly, and their depth of thinking around the topic. Like many of the other adults at the Town Hall, I left incredibly proud knowing we have such great student leadership in Lower School!