Foundations of Leadership: A Class About Life

May 2, 2017

          Foundations of Leadership has been a new kind of challenge for me as a teacher.  This class has been designed for freshmen to help them with the transition between middle school and high school, and to help them with the coming transition from childhood to adulthood.  Rather than teach from a body of material that has been established over years of teaching (like we do in English, Math, Social Studies, etc.), we engage the students in activities and discussions that slowly form habit patterns that will help them succeed in the future.  These students have not had a class like this before, and I haven’t, either, so it has been a learning experience for all of us.

            This nontraditional class has presented us with some opportunities that I felt skeptical about at first, but, after experiencing them with the class, they left me impressed by the caliber of students in front of me.  For example, in the last couple of months we have been covering a unit on Culture.  In most other environments, I would have been cautious bringing this topic up for discussion because of the divided nature of the world we live in.  However, I never hesitated here because, in this school, culture, diversity, and acceptance is present in each and every moment; our students could instruct the rest of the world on these topics!

            The culmination of our Culture unit was the Multicultural Fair, held at the high school, to which the second- and third-graders from Sandoz came to attend.  It was a great success, and I was again amazed at how well my students worked with the younger kids.  They were so inspiring that, for our class’s service project, we visited Sandoz and worked with the second- and third-graders in their classrooms.  Both my high school students and Sandoz’s elementary students greatly enjoyed this experience, and my high school students learned a little along the way about the rewards of service to the community.

            Foundations of Leadership is not a “traditional” class, but we do not live in a “traditional” world, either, so maybe this is exactly what we need.  The values that successful communities have been built on in the past are the same values that this class presents to its students and, with the help and input from those students, translates into the values that future successes will be built upon.

            As I said, Foundations of Leadership has been a new kind of challenge for me, and that’s because I am learning just as much about the students as the students are learning about life.  I’ve been excited, worried, happy, sad, and even scared, but mostly I’ve been proud to work with the students of my Foundations of Leadership class; I’m grateful for the opportunity.