Each student deserves to be a citizen of a school and not just a visitor for the duration of time they spend inside the school. Knowing that school life is demanding socially and academically, it is important for schools to offer ways to foster character development and boost self-awareness as they navigate those challenges. Leadership roles are one way to offer students a roadmap as they try and figure out who they are and how they fit in.
Developing leaders within school life can be a very comprehensive process. Helping the students realize their own drive and determination takes time. It can be a very organic process or one that requires hand-holding and motivation from school personnel. There are always students who know from the first moment that they walk in the door that they want to lead in some way. There are other students who don’t see it in themselves until someone points it out to them.
Some meaningful vehicles to develop students leaders include offering robust programming that nurture the leader within. Some examples would be student-run productions, sports teams, leadership boards, student-directed committees and more.
The informal education approach of offering high school leadership development opportunities offers outstanding life skills that could bring a great deal of school pride along the way. This leaves students with a favorable memory of their school life and growth process during the challenging transition period of adolescence. In the context of informal Jewish education, this person-centered ideology helps each student grow and find deeper meaning along the way, a further extension of how multi-faceted the Chinuch process really is. In a climate of self-growth and a school’s role in this process, I believe that growth occurs through enabling students to experience key Jewish experiences and values through a combination of in-classroom conventional learning and out-of-the-box student life programs and initiatives.
Aliza Blumenthal is director of student life and administrator of ninth and tenth grades of Bruriah High School. Blumenthal is also a proud graduate of Bruriah High School.