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Leadership Program Teaches Skills for College, Work, and Life

Edmund Burke School’s signature Leadership Program is designed to give students in grades 6-12 the skills they need for life after graduation: how to listen, collaborate, manage a diverse group, and inspire an audience. This fits into Burke’s mission of preparing students to make positive contributions to the world.

Eighth graders design and create events for the sixth and seventh grade, such as Board Game Night, while working on group dynamics; listening skills; and how to be assertive, yet respectful. At a freshman retreat organized by juniors and seniors, students discuss leadership styles and the influences of gender, privilege, and power. They learn how to manage time, resolve conflicts, communicate effectively, and motivate an audience.

Sophomores can formally join the program by committing to a year of meetings and retreats designed to strengthen skills ranging from understanding different cultural perspectives to time management and conflict resolution. Over time, juniors and seniors take on more responsibility by planning, organizing, and running school events such as Founders’ Day — including creating themes, designing activities, and ordering supplies.

Safiya Clarke ’16 appreciates the program even more now that she’s in college. “It’s sad to see that many kids didn’t have the opportunity to learn even a tenth of what we did!”

Stacy Smith, along with faculty and staff from multiple departments, has overseen the program for 18 years, and is proud of the fact that students in the program are very different from one another in backgrounds, perspectives, and talents and yet learn to work together and achieve great success. “It’s been a labor of love,” she says.

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