Monday, May 14, 2012

Lessons on Leadership

Each year, I have several opportunities to have lunch with Wilmington Montessori School's  graduating sixth-graders, and it's always a fun and educational experience. 

A focus on service as responsible contributors to the global community is an integral part of the WMS Mission and curriculum.  Service at WMS begins in the classroom, then expands its scope to the entire school, then the community around us, and concludes at the global level with a major service project. Last fall, this group of sixth-graders began their year-long service project when they visited the United Nations as the culminating experience of our focus on service.  At the UN, the group met with a variety of nonprofits and decided to spend the year raising funds for the organization Save the Rain. For this project, they collected donations through a week of school-wide spirit activities and also held a "Rain Walk," during which children carried buckets of water to experience how it might be for people in developing countries who sometimes walk miles to get water for their homes. They had sponsors for each lap that they completed and raised $1,000!

Today at lunch, I asked the sixth-graders to share what they have learned as a result of their Save the Rain project.  There is a common phrase saying that, "All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten."  I have often rephrased that to, "All I really need to know, I learned at Wilmington Montessori School."  These children shared their lessons of leadership with me - lessons that we hope they carry with them into their next school experiences and indeed into life. 

They shared:
  • “We kept going in circles trying to get everyone’s ideas.  Sometimes there were too many voices.  We needed to make a decision and go forward.”
  • “We needed to know when to be serious and when to have fun.”
  • “Everyone can do some of the work.  We have to share the work and count on people to do it.”
  • “Be prepared for what might go wrong and have a back-up plan.”

One of the human potentials we strive to develop in children is leadership.  This conversation reinforced for me how well the empowering environment of our classrooms allows children to learn from their mistakes and grow as leaders.  I look forward to graduation day and to hearing the stories of these leaders in the years ahead.

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