At Stony Brook, student leadership positions aim to develop other-mindedness, not just a good resume
By Debbie Abrahamsen, Guidance Counselor
The focus of the student leadership program at The Stony Brook School is servant leadership, designed to support the school’s mission and motto, “Character before Career.” Our purpose is to challenge young men and women to know Jesus Christ as Lord, to love to love others as themselves, and to grow in knowledge and in skill, in order that they may serve the world through their character and leadership.
Our leaders develop practical tools, language, awareness, experience, and skills through serving one another and our surrounding community. These years of leadership training help each student discover the joy found in serving others as well as to gain experience leading and to unfold personal leadership giftings.
We encourage our students to get involved in various levels of leadership. Some are appointed but most are selected through an extensive application, interview, and selection process. We offer over 20 different councils/committees, of which our students can either head or serve as a member.
Every spring, students complete an online common leadership application, which includes an official resume. Then they go through a series of interviews to apply for the leadership positions for the following school year. Sometimes students apply for roles that they are familiar with, and have already served in different ways over the years. Sometimes students choose roles that are brand new to them. If the latter, students are challenged to grow in their giftings, talents, and passions to serve and impact the school community. When choosing a student leader, we look for someone who is respected by their peers and the faculty, has a servant’s heart, and a desire to use that to improve the SBS community.
Once selected, we make sure students are guided in these positions over the course of the year. Student leaders meet regularly with their faculty advisors to plan out the next meeting’s agenda, to debrief on past meetings and events, and to check in for support and guidance—not only in their capacity as leaders, but also as students who are maturing young men and women. In this way, the faculty advisors mentor the leaders in the development of their leadership skills, a process which lasts all year in a meaningful and deep way.
Our desire is that when students graduate and move on to college, they will take what they have learned about being servant leaders and apply it to their college campuses, and to their places of employment, their future families, and to their future community, so that they may truly live out our school motto in that “They may serve the world through their character and leadership.”
A mom of an alum summed it up perfectly when she said, “As a prefect, my son often encountered situations that he did not yet have the wisdom to handle. It was then he would seek out faculty mentors on campus. The investment of faculty and coaches were evident as they listened, guided, and walked beside him through some significant challenges. Their God-centered efforts were a lifelong investment as he learned biblical principles and along with practical application and skills in working with adults and students. As he continued on to college, the leadership qualities that had been sculpted at SBS were recognized early on, affording him to continue in an impactful role on campus.”