With a student body of 440, every Whitfield student plays an important role in our school community. We create opportunities for students to develop as leaders, allowing them to make a difference, take a stand, and serve as role models for others. There is room to participate in a wide variety of activities from athletics to dramatic productions to over 20 student-led clubs and organizations. From the classroom to the court, Whitfield students take pride in being involved, and trying new things.
The Leadership Development Series, a new initiative this year, is designed for students in grades 7-12 who have been identified as current or rising leaders by Whitfield’s faculty and staff. Students meet one Wednesday morning each month to explore and develop their leadership skills. Approximately 40 students are participating in the inaugural year.
Developed and led by Director of College Counseling Barbara Sams and Director of Equity & Inclusion Anna Warbelow, the Leadership Development Series exemplifies Whitfield’s approach to college prep through character education.
“The idea for the Leadership Development Series is rooted in our Habits of Mind & Heart curriculum,” said Barbara Sams. “Providing an opportunity for focused leadership training will benefit our students now and certainly in their transition to college.”
The learning objectives for the Series include:
- Form an understanding of leadership as more than positional authority
- Connecting the Habits of Mind & Heart and the VIA Character Strengths to leadership and different styles of leadership
- Exploring personal leadership styles and learning how to leverage personal leadership strengths
- Form an understating of how social identities, and those of others, impact personal leadership styles
- An introduction to Whitfield leadership logistics and policies
- An introduction to best practices for leading a club
- Practicing leadership skills
“Everything that we are doing in the Leadership Development Series is centered around the leadership skills students will develop and use throughout their lives,” said Anna Warbelow. “We continue to drive home the point that being a leader isn’t just positional—it’s about how you act in your everyday life. When kids get to college, they will have many opportunities to run a club or to lead a meeting, but also the opportunity to demonstrate their leadership as a member of a community. Learning these skills now means they can continue to positively contribute to Whitfield and be ahead of their peers in college.”
As a middle school student, Ava Johnson ’24 is enthusiastic about exploring different types of leadership. “I think the Leadership Development Series is a really cool opportunity for me to strengthen my skills as a leader,” said Johnson. “We have talked a lot about the power of leading by example—you don’t have to be the president of a club or captain of a team to be a leader. What we are doing is unique because both middle and upper school students are working so closely together. That is intimidating sometimes but everyone is very respectful. It’s important to learn to be comfortable talking with all different types of people no matter their age, grade level, or background.”
Josh Schultz ’21 is having a positive experience as he learns about his own leadership style. “I really enjoy participating in the series because it gives me an opportunity to work alongside my peers so that we all can become better leaders,” said Schultz. “I have learned that I have a very vocal leadership style. During the sessions, I have the opportunity to speak up and voice how I feel about certain topics while learning how to work more effectively within a group.”