Rising to the challenge of unlocking students leadership potential

May 11, 2021

Leadership theories are meaningless unless they can inspire students to grow, lead and make an impact on our community.

That’s also the takeaway message of the CAIS Social Justic Club (SJC) – an extra-curricular activity led by students to effect changes and raise awareness of social and cultural issues  leveraging their leadership skills.

Social Justice Club has been with CAIS since its establishment, and it successfully empowers students to be changemakers, serving various social organizations and underprivileged communities from the get-go.

The success of SJC did not come overnight. It is when its impact and reputation snowballed into a bigger concept that propelled it to reach a new height – and CAIS Bespoke Leadership Program was born.

The school community is excited to see how the Program will unfold. Here, the Assistant Principal of CAIS, Daniel Schick, describes the initiative in his own words.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John Maxwell

Our vision is to raise student leaders who will impact our school, their friends, community, Hong Kong and internationally.

Through a 3-year leadership program starting from Grade 7, CAIS connects students with critical life skills such as communication, problem solving, empathy and creativity that prepare them to take the plunge into the exciting world of opportunity.

Students, through the CAIS leadership courses, will learn that they need to do, to act, to serve, and to be instruments of change.

This is very exciting, and while it may sound like a very lofty goal it is actually very simple in practice.  The students identify areas of the school and community that they would like to help, and devise plan to support and see them through.

Since the beginning of CAIS we saw increasing number of students serving throughout Hong Kong, feeding homeless, teaching English to underprivileged children, working with elderly citizens, and being a light to all around through SJC.  By starting a dedicated leadership training from grade 7, we will be opening this arena to our younger students who would have the opportunity to embrace challenge and take action toward a better world.

Cultivating leadership skills among young students is important because they are encouraged to be open-mined to take risk and explore new ideas while developing their communication skills.

Grade 7 students will start with “Community Leadership” whereby they develop social strengths through working closely with their peers to support school events. This cohort of students will also enroll in the Hong Kong Awards for Young People program (AYP) and take on challenges focusing on physical recreation, skills, expeditions and service.

When students progress to Grade 8, they will take part in a “Personal Leadership Development” program in which they will be challenged in significant areas of personal growth. Students will be connected to Toastmasters International and learn skills through a series of activities boosting communication skills. Meanwhile, students will be registered for the AYP bronze level program which is the Hong Kong equivalent of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and we aspire to not only see all our students finish this level but consider taking on the silver and gold levels on their own throughout high school.

Grade 9 students will undertake “Global Leadership” program which will expand on their previous experience in Grade 7 and 8 and scale up their involvement in projects and school events including annual Discovery Days trips taking place in Hong Kong, Asia and around the world.

This leadership journey is a time for students to grow, explore, and expand their area of impact. We envision our students becoming articulate, discerning, well-trained leaders and changemakers.

Speaking of the Covid impact on our learning, one thing that I would want our students to keep on experiencing in 2021 and onward is being self-directed in their learning.

We are so thrilled to see many positive attributes emerging from our students' resilience and ability to harness technology to engage and communicate. If online learning has taught us anything, it is learning to be resourceful and take control of your own learning and be creative!

Learning can take place anywhere and shouldn’t be limited in a traditional classroom. The opportunity of trying different things and doing things differently are some of the most wonderful things happened as a result of Covid, for both students and teachers.