How schools can empower the students of today to become the leaders of tomorrow
Leadership is about much more than a title.
Thousands of academics worldwide have studied the nature of leadership and tried to differentiate what separates an effective leader from an ineffective one. What’s certainly clear is that character, above all, affects the strength of one’s leadership. If you are trustworthy, humble, honest, reflective and kind – you are far more likely to successfully inspire and lead others.
Ensuring that students end up with professional leadership ‘titles’ in their chosen career should never be a school’s goal. Instead, they should be focused on offering learning opportunities and environments that help students to develop strength of character, and giving students plenty of authentic opportunities to learn about leadership – and find their own leadership style – so that they can lead effectively in whatever context or career they ultimately choose.
GIS: Empowering Young Leaders
Garden International School is committed to ‘growing great leaders’. By offering one of the most extensive and meaningful student leadership programmes in Asia, they are able to offer genuine leadership opportunities to more than 200 students across their Primary and Secondary schools. GIS students have the opportunity to lead their peers – and their school community – in ‘strands’ that inspire and motivate them. Within each ‘strand’, students have the opportunity to work with students from other year groups and to build their communication, cooperation and delegation skills whilst planning exciting, ‘real life’ change events. From running charity events to interviewing new school leaders, introducing community recycling and co-ordinating musical performances – the GIS student leaders are empowered to really make a difference.
‘The Leadership Strands’
At GIS, students are able to apply to lead in a wide range of areas (or ‘strands’): ten in Primary, and nine in Secondary! Whatever piques a student’s interest and fires their passion – there will be a leadership strand to suit them. From environmental issues to student wellness and wellbeing, to sporting and community focused-strands to those focused on digital technology – the students are given a broad range of portfolios to tackle.
Each strand has a maximum of 15 students, and is supported by a teacher who helps the children to develop 3-year strategic plans – impressive stuff! And even children as young as 6 are encouraged to get involved in leadership, through the school’s Primary Student Council!
Throughout the year, they are empowered to make real and sustainable change. Many of the school’s successful community initiatives – from their annual ‘Street Store’ run for the homeless community, to the ‘Drop and Go’ weekly recycling project, to their new ‘Meatless Mondays’ initiative – have all been conceived, planned and led by student leaders.
Leadership: An Ongoing Journey
Students at GIS are not simply offered a leadership position and then ‘left to it’. Once appointed to a Strand, they attend a bespoke student leadership conference developed in-house to support the development of their leadership skills and understanding of leadership as a whole. Ongoing meetings with other members of their ‘strand give them regular opportunities to discuss ideas, plan events, reflect on progress, and take action. Led by a Sixth Form ‘Director’ and supported by a teacher, both Primary and Secondary strands work throughout the year on what great leadership really ‘looks like’. Through workshops, conferences and individual projects, they are able to develop many useful skills – cooperation, collaboration, communication – that will undoubtedly serve them well throughout their studies, strengthen their university (or other tertiary) applications and better prepare them for life beyond school.
Through their leadership roles, GIS student leaders learn the challenges and rewards of leadership. Whatever career path they ultimately choose to follow, the opportunity to have been part of passionate student working groups with ‘real world’ opportunities to plan and enact change is invaluable. Through the GIS student leadership programme, students learn that leadership is far more than a title or a badge – it is about taking positive action, and inspiring others to act too.
We nurture the leadership potential in every child. To learn more about what makes GIS Secondary so special, book your personal tour online at gardenschool.edu.my or call our lovely admissions team on +(603) 6209 6888