Raising Up Leaders: A Donor-Shared Vision
Are leaders born, or are leaders developed? At Portsmouth Christian Academy, we believe leaders can be both. As we observe the number of true leaders in our world weighed against the potential number of true leaders, PCA leadership challenged itself to build on its student leadership development efforts beyond Student Government.
Recognizing the importance of early leadership development—on both the local and global scales—donors came alongside PCA in the past year to bring leadership development to the fore, starting with Upper School students. With this financial support, PCA began a formal Leadership Development program, integrating multiple facets of leadership into its education to raise up leaders of tomorrow.
Obvious opportunities for student leadership had been Student Government and athletic team captains. While a good start, those groups were limited to the small number of students who could participate. Senior Prefects explain: “We wanted to make a difference among our peers, but we weren’t involved in Student Government.”
Because of generous donors, PCA began in earnest a revised leadership development initiative that included intentional training up of student leaders in the areas of academics, unity (community-building), spiritual life, fine arts, and athletics while simultaneously tying in biblical qualities of leadership.
“Leadership development is the convergence of our mission and our vision: to inspire students to maximize their God-given potential, and to send out Christ-centered graduates who will impact the world for good.” says Upper School Principal Jordan Hecklemann.
He continues: “That God-given potential includes the potential for leadership, so we teach, train, provide opportunities to lead, and give feedback to students so that they are better equipped to impact the world for good.”
So what does a student leader do?
Small Group leaders shepherd their classmates and work to create a Christ-centered culture through small group meetings that allow students to go under the hood to explore their relationship with God.
Student Government leaders continue to represent the will of the students by grade level.
Academic leaders serve as resources to the student body and last year started a peer tutoring program that offers access to 15-20 peers with skills in STEM, history, and literature.
Spiritual leaders provide opportunities for the entire student body to engage and experience Christ in order to reach others and serve Him throughout their lives. Worship Nights and See You at the Pole are recent examples of those opportunities.
Athletic leaders typically have 30-40 students attend their weekly huddle where they initiate ice breakers, games, and discussion; organize sports assemblies; and more as they endeavor to grow student athletes, both on and off the field.
Unity leaders, with the goal of building community throughout the high school and with middle school, have engaged in 68 Hours of Hunger, and are—at the time of this writing—planning a Winter Carnival that is open to PCA students in grades 8-12.
Finally, Fine Arts leaders kicked off a student tech group that supports concerts and theatre productions and is currently planning a school-wide recital to include students outside the theatre and performing arts ensembles.
When asked how PCA’s Leadership Development program is shaping and informing their lives, the Prefects responded with:
“I’m able to act out the leadership strategies we’ve been taught to impact our peers as a whole.” – Miles
“This program is giving me an opportunity to lead within the school and then outside and beyond as I make way to head off to college.” – Caleb
“This is truly my favorite experience I’ve had in my whole education thus far. I’ve learned so much about leadership—from planning events and delegating responsibilities to speaking publicly and giving constructive feedback. And I’ve been privileged to have fellow students reach out to me for prayer, advice, or just someone to talk to. This opportunity has been the biggest blessing.” -Maggie
“I always had leadership potential, but I never had the opportunity in my previous school to act on it. I’ve learned I’m good at some things and not others…we all have different strengths, and we learn how to work our individual gifts towards a common goal.” – Seth
“I see in the world the separation of faith and leadership. This program has shown me how to carry both.” – Joey
Head of School Mike Runey concludes: “We owe it to our students, our families, our communities, and the world to acknowledge the shortage of readily identified leaders of influence. Our desire is to train young people to plan, budget, communicate, inspire, motivate, and humbly fail and succeed. We also guide them towards leadership that is marked with integrity, dignity, compassion, and humility. We’re grateful to our donors who know the value of this kind of leadership. We’re stewards of these kids for a few short years, but the lessons taught here will last a lifetime and have the potential to impact our world for good.”