By Sophia ’23
Unconventional Leadership is one of the many unique courses offered in the Kutler Center. Taught by Dean of Students Jordan Church and President and Head of School Rick Commons, the course focuses on leadership as a tangible and directly applicable concept.
Unlike other leadership courses, it focuses significantly more on how to be a good leader and less on the theory of how to lead a group of people. To expand on that, the typical “leadership theories” (including servant leadership, trait leadership, and more) are taught in only a few classes – the rest of the year is dedicated to exploring how to make ideas stick, work with others, solve problems, and lead by example.
What makes the course unconventional is its very nature – class periods are often filled with fun team building activities and challenges in which the class must work together, often with minimal (if any) adult guidance or instruction. These challenges create a unique environment in the class, and have allowed our class to bond greatly. Through this course, I’ve gotten to know so many students in both 11th and 12th grade which I had not previously met.
The class is largely presentation based, with students working together in group projects to present to each other, peers, teachers, and the administration. Students also participate in feedback sessions entitled, “Commons’ Corner,” in which Mr. Commons brings up topical issues for the group to discuss. The class provides students with the skills and opportunity to create real change in the school environment, with one of the many presentations being about a change they would make to the school, presented to the administration.
Overall, the class is highly engaging and interesting, and an empowering course for student leaders. It gives students the tools and skill sets to present individually and in groups, and the students in the class feel significantly more comfortable with presentations and public speaking than they were at the beginning of the year. Through creative problem solving, teamwork, and cooperation, students learn how to lead a group, get their ideas across in an effective and memorable way, and explore leadership theory in an applicable and accessible manner.