What Does It Take to Grow a Leader

February 8, 2021

I stumbled upon a Zoom tour yesterday. One of our eighth graders was explaining to a prospective parent how she grew to be a confident leader. It was a process, she said, that hinged on the daily reminders from her Mirowitz teachers that her voice and actions have power, and the frequent opportunities Mirowitz has offered to use that power to affect positive change. “I wouldn’t be me without Mirowitz,” she said.

It reminded me that what we are doing here works!

We have designed a childhood experience that ensures that every child graduates from Mirowitz a leader, that they excel in their next academic setting, through college and into adulthood. It’s not by chance that they slide through adolescence making good decisions, when opportunities to make poor ones presents themselves daily. Want to know our secret recipe?

We grow leaders by giving students a voice.

Each child at our school knows that her or his opinion is valued. As students get older, thoughtful discussions evolve to Socratic dialogue, and students know they have a safe place to share their profound and sophisticated ideas. At Mirowitz, no one thinks it’s “uncool” to be smart. Great ideas are given opportunities to incubate and become reality! (Just ask the 3rd graders who had an idea to install water bottle fillers a few years ago, or the 7th graders who had an idea to build a pond when they were in Kindergarten)

We grow leaders by creating a model community in which every member is respected. Graduates of Mirowitz choose their friends carefully, for they know the signs of a trustworthy companion. They know what to do when faced with conflict and hurtful words, because the adults at Mirowitz have empowered them to be confident problem solvers. This is, no doubt, the reason research shows that Jewish day school graduates are more resistant to social pressures that lead to risky behaviors than their public and private school peers.

We grow leaders by instituting leadership opportunities for every child. Second graders give campaign speeches for classroom positions. Third, fourth and fifth graders read Torah and lead a discussion in front of the whole school. In a few weeks, our fourth graders will lobby their elected officials (via Zoom). Middle Schoolers speak at city council meetings. Leadership opportunities are purposefully built in, and give our students confidence to influence social values and affect social change.

We grow leaders by sending this message each and every day: You have the power to make a difference! Use it well in small ways and large. If you want to see that it’s all true, let Patty know! She’s happy to take you on a virtual tour!


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