Teenage students work as camp counsellors with a group of young children.

There's no such thing as "a born leader." 

Being a leader is like being a basketball player – becoming great requires a set of skills that nobody is born with. Just like learning how to play a sport, leadership skills can be developed through practice and building confidence. 

We believe every young person has the potential to be a great leader or a high-level athlete.

That's why our school leadership program for all SMUS students, along with our holiday camps for students from all over Greater Victoria, prioritize providing young people with opportunities to learn firsthand the skills to be a good leader.

Our programs are designed to give students the skills and practice to become one. From guiding outdoor trips to being a role model for their classmates, everyday students prepare for their future challenges of life.

“Leadership has been interwoven in everything that we've done,” says Grade 9 student Chelsea Lee, who has been at SMUS since Kindergarten. “There have always been chances to be a leader; the school has really fostered that and has always talked to us about leadership and the different ways you can be a leader. Looking back, I feel like I've known what the word ‘leadership’ meant since I was in Kindergarten.”

Skills for Life

Throughout their time at SMUS, we help students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 build crucial skills that serve them at school and in life. They learn how to communicate effectively, think creatively and critically think, and have personal and social responsibility.

Our school’s leadership program recently expanded further with the launch of a new program that was offered at Spring Break. The Rising Leaders camp focused on equipping 20 students between the ages of 14 and 18 with confidence and skills to get summer jobs working with young children as camp leaders at SMUS and elsewhere in the summer.

“Leadership is really important because it’s a skillset that will be applicable to every aspect of their lives as they continue through school and go into the workforce and become adults,” says Melody Kassiri, the Rising Leader camp instructor and camps coordinator at SMUS. “At this age they are so open to learning as they figure out who they are and what they want to do. When they’re put into situations that are thoughtfully part of a leadership program, students get moments where they see what they’re capable of.”

Chelsea is one of the students who wanted to spend part of her Spring Break in the leadership program.

“I don’t really stop on Spring Break. The way I look at it, Spring Break grants me two extra weeks of free time that I can go do something else to improve my skills,” she says. 

Over the course of the five-day camp, the young leaders learned about compassion, empathy, boundaries, connection and relationships, while also putting those developing skills into practice. The 20 young leaders were also able to work with younger students participating in other day camps that were happening on campus.

“My favourite part of the process is seeing them work with other kids and seeing them develop a sense of joy and understanding around it,” Melody says. “Leadership is a conscious practice. It's about learning who you are, and when you're working with others, how to motivate, inspire, support and encourage them. Leadership is a continuous learning process. You're not born into it, you don’t ever graduate from it; it's a continuum that you keep working at.”

Leadership at SMUS

Every student from Kindergarten to Grade 12 has a leadership role they can play in our community. That's why, as Chelsea reflects, students as young as Kindergarten learn about leadership and what it means to be a leader.

No matter what grade a student is currently in or in what grade they start at SMUS, leadership and character development are important parts of our program and are key aspects of preparing students for life.

The focus at SMUS is providing students with opportunities to learn skills and then put them into practice in the real-world.

They also learn that a leader isn’t necessarily the person standing at the front of a group or the person with the loudest voice. A leader is someone who can observe a situation, understand it, make a decision, and act in a way that helps create a positive outcome.

The pinnacle of the leadership program at SMUS is becoming a school prefect. A prefect is a student in Grade 12 who takes on additional responsibilities around the school and is a leader to their fellow students. It’s a role that Chelsea aspires for in a couple of years because that she feels like she has been so well-supported and well-prepared for it.

“I really enjoy the opportunities at SMUS because I can practice leadership in a really safe environment. The school lets us grow and develop our skills and get better at it every year,” Chelsea says, “It’s not pressure-filled; you’re not shoved onto a stage and told to speak in front of 1,000 people. SMUS lets you build confidence and build up your leadership skills more and more every year.”