Ravenscroft, an independent pre-K-12 school in Raleigh, N.C., is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Its legacy and values run deep within the extended community of students, alumni, faculty, staff and families.

Even as the school celebrates its history, the focus is on the future.

Developing Next Generation Leaders at Ravenscroft
Ravenscroft teachers practice teamwork during Index Card Castle activity.

A new strategic vision — and a collaboration with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) — emphasizes leadership and citizenship development as essential for educating graduates to be “game-changers” now and as adults out in the world.

“Unlike many programs, the Ravenscroft leadership and citizenship initiative isn’t for a select few students or about the ‘experts’ prescribing a plan or solution,” says Joel Wright, director of Early Leadership Development at CCL. “Our work with Ravenscroft is for all students, and it is an evolving and co-created process.”

Beginning in 2012, CCL contributed leadership frameworks, research and tools, along with an appreciation of learning and development processes. Ravenscoft’s faculty and staff shared their deep knowledge of teaching, child development and the school community and context.

Together, they reviewed data collected from a school-wide parent survey, stakeholder focus groups and interviews about leadership and citizenship:

  • What does leadership mean at Ravenscroft?
  • What are the leadership behaviors that you would like the youth to demonstrate?
  • What does it mean to be a citizen leader?

This discovery phase resulted in a three-part framework of Leading Self, Leading with Others, and Changing Your World. And what began as a student-focused initiative is evolving into a school-wide organizational leadership project.

“In order to help young people learn and grow as leaders and citizens, our entire culture and system needs to have a common understanding of and belief in this work,” says Colleen Ramsden, Ravenscroft’s assistant head of the School for Academic Affairs. “As adults, we must model the behavior. Our goal is to purposefully weave leadership and citizenship learning into the fabric of our school and community, so that it spans all ages and is sustained over years.”

During the first year, every faculty member at Ravenscroft participated in two professional development retreats to foster their own learning, while planning ways to bring leadership lessons to life through class and school activities. One seasoned faculty member said it was the best training she had experienced in her career teaching at five schools.

CCL also held student retreats for sixth and ninth graders as they transitioned between school divisions. Experiential learning activities helped them to build a sense of community, form new friendships and be introduced to foundational leadership and citizenship principles.

Early on, students commented on what they learned, including:

“It helped me learn about myself and what I valued.”

“I learned more about leadership and what it consists of. I also learned to think in different ways.”

“I learned the importance of communication, leadership and how my actions affect others.”

Ongoing efforts are geared to the integration of the framework and practices throughout the school, including weekly consultations with the CCL youth leadership team. By 2015, every student and teacher will be fully engaged, along with Ravenscroft’s executive leadership, board, parent body and alumni.

“Our commitment to developing young people as leaders and citizens — and our community-wide approach — is already eliciting interest from educators nationally,” says Ramsden. “We have begun to change the education conversation away from quick fixes and the latest ‘reforms’ and toward preparing students to be resilient, capable and able to lead in a complex and interdependent world.”

Learn about Leadership Beyond Boundaries work in the education sector with Research and Innovation Incubator partner, Ravenscroft.

Game-changing graduates are bold and courageous, aware, compassionate, able and successful … and prepared to be leaders for a radically changing and extraordinarily challenging world.

Doreen Kelly, Head of School, Ravenscroft

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