Leadership Principles and Streams

Leadership Principles and Streams (Overview)

Our understanding of leadership has shifted. Today's leaders require more global understanding, emotional intelligence, cooperative ability and an empowering, rather than overpowering, approach. Every student at SMUS is a leader and is involved in the leadership program.

We believe that leadership is a process of engagement that moves people to understanding and action in an environment inspired by trust. Every student at SMUS is a leader and is involved in the leadership program. From Kindergarten to Grade 12 there are opportunities for each student to explore and experience their potential as leaders in an age-appropriate way.

The Five Streams of Leadership

Effective leadership requires a complex set of skills, knowledge and values. With this in mind, our school has developed a multifaceted approach to leadership education. Our program includes five interdependent streams: principles of leadership, service, sustainability, global responsibility and experiential/outdoor education.

Leadership Streams: Principles of Leadership (definition)

The Principles of Leadership stream focuses on personal development. More than knowing how to lead, we want our students to be responsible, positive leaders who consider the interests of others. As we build a theoretical and ethical foundation for solid leadership, there are opportunities to discuss ethics, character and how to be a good leader.

Philosophy

Grade 9 Leadership Conference

Character development is the key focus of the Principles of Leadership stream and the SMUS leadership program as a whole.

The foundation of the leadership program is based on the following four pillars:

  • Service
  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Courage

Lessons in moral judgement, ethics, values and leading with integrity are formally delivered through chapel but are also integrated throughout school-life.

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Leadership Streams: Service (definition)

To foster a culture of service, citizenship and responsibility at SMUS, each student from Kindergarten to Grade 12 participates in meaningful service to others. Students work around our local community as well as fundraise for national and international causes. Some students also choose to work on service projects through SMUS trips around the world during school breaks.

Philosophy

Dominican Republic Trip 2011

The service stream focuses on helping others, in many different ways. From volunteering with local charities to organizing fundraisers for causes around the world, our students work hard to improve the situation of people facing poverty, discrimination, and isolation.

Each student from SMUS participates in service, and, in doing so, they broaden their perspectives, develop leadership skills, learn about the world around them and begin to see service as a part of life.

Because of the various ways to take part in service, opportunities for leadership are abundant. Senior School students can chair important service events, Middle School students can hold a bake sale on campus for a charity of their choice and Junior School students can help their peers by mediating conflicts on the playground.

Though not all service requires leadership, its considerable range allows students to use their unique talents and champion the causes that are most important to them.

Goals

  • To facilitate age-appropriate, meaningful service opportunities for all students
  • To improve the quality of life and the environment in local and global communities
  • To forming partnerships with community groups and charities
  • To integrate service with academics through curricular-based, experiential activities
  • To foster and promote stewardship (internal service) throughout the SMUS community

Service at SMUS is embedded within all programs. While it does sometimes stand alone, its connection to the school philosophy means that service enters all aspects of the school.

Service can tie into and overlap with academic, leadership, environmental, experiential, arts, athletic and outdoor pursuits. Service initiatives are not reliant on one person but take the direction of different individuals and groups.

By connecting service with a diverse academic program, we help students become citizens who are educated, civic-minded, aware of global issues and socially responsible.

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Leadership Streams: Sustainability (definition)

We focus on environmental issues, increasing our awareness and decreasing our impact. Our school works on small everyday actions as well as major facilities changes to improve our environmental sustainability. There are whole school initiatives to bring us together in our efforts to “green” our campus and change our habits for the benefit of the planet.

Philosophy

Through the sustainability stream, we decrease our impact on the environment and increase our awareness of important environmental issues. This includes resource conservation initiatives, facility upgrades and promotion of eco-conscious changes thoughout our community.

Goals

At SMUS, we see sustainability as more than being environmentally-conscious; we define sustainable initiatives as ones that are economically, socially and environmentally responsible.

Our sustainability stream works to:

  • create opportunities for students to take positive action for the environment;
  • provide information and tools to students to reduce their personal impact;
  • educate students on the scientific, social and political factors that affect the environment;
  • engage students in school-wide, local and global initiatives; and
  • empower students to think positively about the future.

Sustainability overlaps and connects to the other four streams at SMUS. Events like Walk for Water, a service initiative that raises fund for villages lacking proper access to clean water, also makes us aware that water is a valuable resource that we should conserve. Our experiential program includes an assessment of invasive plant species.

Understanding how our lifestyle affects climate change, which impacts other parts of the world through natural disasters and altered growing seasons, reminds us of our global responsibility. Lastly, principles of leadership empower us to tackle the challenges we face.

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Leadership Streams: Experiential and Outdoor Education

Both our Grade 10 and outdoor education programs provide hands-on learning. Students learn through doing, reflect on their experiences, and apply their learning to other situations in the outdoors or in the classroom. Through these programs, students in different contexts examine their relationships with themselves, others and the world.

Philosophy

There is no better teacher than experience; this is especially true when it comes to leadership. One of the greatest opportunities for students to practice leadership is through participation in outdoor education.

Whether hiking through a sunlit forest or building shelters on a snowy mountaintop, being out in nature encourages students to rely on each other, reflect on their identity apart from their day-to-day life and face new challenges.

Year after year, our students come back from these journeys with a better understanding of their personal strengths and abilities. At the Senior School level, students even take on formal leadership roles, with Grade 12 students leading their Grade 9, 10 and 11 counterparts into nature.

Goals

The SMUS Outdoor Education program balances safety and adventure. At a school surrounded by forests, ocean and mountains, students have plenty of chances to get outside. More than exercise and new experiences, the Outdoor Education program teaches leadership, teamwork, perseverance and goal-setting.

Through outdoor education, students:

  • develop skills in a wide variety of outdoor activities;
  • set, achieve, and perhaps exceed personal goals;
  • build leadership, individual responsibility and self-discipline; and
  • appreciate and respect the natural environment.

Safety and Liability

Outdoor education activities can include a certain amount of risk. To reduce these risks, we:

  • employ agencies and instructors who are skilled, certified and have significant experience;
  • utilize areas and activities that are age- and experience-appropriate;
  • ensure that equipment and clothing are adequate for the conditions;
  • provide the briefing or training that students need;
  • brief instructors on the standards expected while working for SMUS; and
  • promote a what we call a challenge by choice approach.

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Leadership Streams: Global Responsibility (definition)

Being globally responsible means appreciating that there is a world beyond us; a world we are a part of and one that we can – and should – play an active role in improving. While learning about different places, cultures, issues, and governments, students learn about our civic responsibility and what it means to be a global citizen. These are tools that will help our students be successful in the global world.

Philosophy

When we talk about global responsibility, we are talking about our connection to the world around us. Global responsibility isn't just about world-wide action and issues, it's acknowledging that we have a role in our local, national and international communities.

We want students to look beyond their own lives and become active participants in the wider community.

The tenets of global responsibility are naturally interwoven throughout the service and sustainability streams and also appear in the humanities and social studies programs.

Like any aspect of leadership, the complexity of global responsibility presents both significant challenges and great opportunities. Global responsibility cannot be “taught” in a traditional, linear sense – it must be fostered.

Goals

To create global citizens, our entire community works to instill key aspects into all of our students. We believe that each of these plays an important role in our students development into active, informed and capable people.

Aspects

  • Awareness. Be informed about the complex issues facing today's world.
  • Empathy. Be able to see the perspectives of others; recognize our interdependency.
  • Understanding. Recognize the interconnected nature of the world and its problems.
  • Motivation. Know that we are all responsible for help resolve these problems.
  • Inspiration. Believe that change is possible and we form the solution.
  • Skills. Practice different tools and techniques to promote change.
  • Sensitivity & Pragmatism. Be prepared for the challenges and opportunities that may affect efforts at change.

Regardless of their subject area, teachers build on many of these attributes through their curriculum. Together, they form a team that ensures each student is exposed to these important elements.

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