Becky Anderson, Director of Junior School

With complex, contentious and polarizing news stories taking much of our attention, it has shone a light on the range of definitions of good leadership. It has also revealed that our children, as global citizens, will need to develop empathy, effective communication, and critical thinking skills.

A person’s understanding of themselves as a leader is not a concept that we believe happens overnight, and one is never too young to see the positive impact they can have on others and their community. Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, and SMUS’s own Ann Makosinski ’15 have demonstrated the influence and impact young people have on our society.

During the past week, our Grade 5 students recorded their leadership speeches (you can watch the video below) and were presented with their special pins signifying the important responsibility they have as leaders at the Junior School. Working with Assistant Director Ms. Kathleen Cook, students brainstormed and had discussions on the topic of leadership. Thinking of role models in their lives and people who have influenced them, students considered the attributes and habits of a good leader. They turned those thoughts inward to ask themselves, “How will I be a leader this school year?” Over their years at the school, these students will continue to develop their understanding of themselves as leaders, take action, and gain the skills to lead others.

As their confidence as young leaders grow, they will need to learn the skills necessary to play with, learn from and grow alongside people that they do not always get along with, agree with or understand. This is so important.

We have always worked on fostering an understanding of important virtues and qualities in our children and discussing which one needs to be drawn upon when there is conflict, disagreement or disharmony. Building this awareness, valuing different perspectives, and demonstrating empathy is going to be essential for productive discourse now and in the future. Just like leadership skills are not developed overnight, neither are these important skills.

We see these skills taking shape each day on the playground and we believe each interaction is an opportunity for practice, refinement, growth and development. It is our hope that these small steps will help our students grow into the leaders of tomorrow.