Students will rise up to meet challenges and expectations if we provide them the opportunity to do so. As educators, it is our responsibility to teach students how to become effective leaders. We also need to model how to be leaders. Leadership also needs to be seen in all students. We cannot pick and choose who we want to be leaders simply because we “see it” in a student. We need to see all students as leaders and find a way for each student to show leadership.
I have had the pleasure to work with many students who show great leadership skills. While I was at St. Ignatius, I worked with students who participated in the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership Program. This is a program where high school students work with children from the neighborhood by providing tutoring and being a “big brother.” We prepared students for how to interact with students, but the students took it upon themselves to lead the neighborhood children into new leaders. They strengthened and bettered the lives of those young children. The St. Ignatius students are great leaders.
St. Ignatius students also developed many new programs and clubs that define leadership. Under the guidance of Mr. Skerl, students led the movement to form a society where they gather, pray, and act as pall bearers for those who do not have anyone to bury them. They also formed a program where they gather, pray, prepare a meal, and then go out and meet homeless and give them a meal. Students led these movements to become what they are today.
Students want to be leaders. One great way for us as educators is to have students lead prayer services and retreats. When it comes to matters of faith, we need to let students show their faith to other students. As adults, we also need to model our Catholic faith. This modeling will allow students to see how to live the life of a Catholic as an adult. This is beneficial. We need to let students see other students model the faith as well. They need to see the presence of the Catholic faith in students their own age. Student leaders in student faith formation is important to growing the Catholic faith.
Students being servant leaders increases the involvement of other students in service projects. Teachers and schools need to provide opportunities for students to serve others. Teachers need to be guides of the Catholic faith while passing the leadership to students. Students need to represent schools because they want to, not because they have to. Students can bring the faith to others by their actions. Students can bring the faith to others through their ideas. Students need to be involved in all aspects of service. Students need to lead.
I am blessed to work in a school where students are provided the opportunity to share their faith. We have many opportunities where students can lead. We have a Liturgical Council where students plan the masses by choosing songs, petitions, and other parts of Mass that can be arranged. We have a weekly Advent prayer service where students lead the school in prayer. We also have service projects that students are actively involved.
Students need to become leaders in the Catholic faith and of their education. We need to lead them to opportunities to share their passion and love of Christ. We cannot simply lead students, but we need to teach students to be leaders in the Catholic faith and education!