By Bill Mulcahy, Head of Lower School

Recently a group of fourth graders visited my office to interview me on the topic of leadership, and why I think it’s so important for our fourth grade “Lower School leaders” to learn about leadership opportunities throughout the school year. Like any good educator/parent would, I decided to turn the question around to the class of students who visited me. As is so often the case with students, they happily obliged and discussed what leadership means to them. One of my favorite things about most Lower Schoolers is that they love to talk and after a robust 20-minute conversation, they shared with me their thoughts on leadership. Their key takeaways?
Leaders Lead By Example: Our students, like most adults, are quick to see through insincerity or hypocrisy. They spoke at length about people they see as leaders—classmates, teachers, and others—and how they model in their actions what they ask for in others.

Leaders are Community Helpers: The fourth graders spoke at length about impact, and how leaders help to improve the communities that they live in. I’m excited to see their work on their capstone Exhibition project this spring.

Leaders Persevere: In our conversation, the students spoke at length about the importance of perseverance, and how people they look up to work through challenges to find success. They were quick to discuss times during the course of the fourth grade year where they benefited from their own resilience. It was nice to hear and see our social-emotional learning in action. Our students were even quick to talk about the advice they have for our current third grade students when they move up to fourth grade.

Leaders are Kind: While the students often mentioned that leadership can be challenging, they consistently talked about how the most effective leaders are kind and supportive of others, despite the challenges they may endure. Part of leadership, they discussed, is motivating others to learn and grow, and our students overwhelmingly stated that kindness goes a long way and is effective.
As always, it’s a wonderful privilege for our faculty to teach and learn from our students, and we will savor the next three and a half months with our fourth grade leaders before we send them down Carmel Road to Middle School.