Little Flower Leadership Camp in Full Bloom
Little Flower Catholic High School proudly presented its first annual Leadership and LifeSkills Camp from July 9-11, 2019. The camp experience was open to all Little Flower students in rising grades 9-12 in the 2019-20 school year at Little Flower and was supported through the generosity of Little Flower’s alumnae and benefactors.
President Jeane McNamara was eager to engage willing students in this type of experience to live the school mantra to “Lead Fearlessly”. Engaging the services of Thom Stecher Associates, a nationally recognized leader in teacher and student educational programming in the field of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), McNamara worked with the Stecher team to develop high value experiential programming that “developed competency in SEL across the domains of self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, relationship skills and social awareness. “The high school experience needs to focus on far more than simply academic rigor,” says McNamara, borrowing from the January 2019 study by the Aspen Institute entitled, From a Nation at Risk to A Nation of Hope, research upon which Stecher’s team relies heavily. McNamara quotes from the report, “Educating the whole learner cannot be reduced to a simple set of policies or proposals. It is, instead, a mindset that should inform the entire educational enterprise.”
According to “Ready to Lead,” a report for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) based on a national principal survey on how SEL can prepare children and transform schools, there is data to support the importance of embedding social and emotional development in schools. The report cites a 2011 meta-analysis that found that students who receive high-quality SEL instruction have achievement scores on average of 11 percentile points higher than students who did not receive SEL instruction.
The 3 day camp, held at Little Flower, focused on moving students through those aspects of SEL that built their self-confidence and moved them into feeling empowered as student leaders and influencers. Borrowing from the metaphor of the rose, which is frequently linked to the school’s patroness, St. Thérèse of Lisieux (often referred to as the Little Flower of Jesus), McNamara views the students at Little Flower as rosebuds and it is the school’s job to take them to their full potential or bloom: Building Leadership Opportunities Of Many (BLOOM). Says McNamara, “It is incumbent upon a school that makes the claim that we have been ‘empowering women since 1939’ to walk the walk by providing the types of experiences that the Leadership and LifeSkills Camp unpacks for our students. Young women who are exposed to these types of experiences will reap benefits for the rest of the high school experience and beyond.”
A recent study from The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) looked at five primary social and emotional skills—open-mindedness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extraversion and agreeableness—to determine which are the strongest indicators of success. The study revealed a lack of SEL regularly correlated with unfavorable outcomes such as an increased chance of unemployment, divorce, poor health, criminal behavior and imprisonment. McNamara is determined that Little Flower will stay ahead of the curve on directing instruction and experiences at developing the whole child.
Heydy Martinez ’21, remarked, “The past 3 days have been very eye opening. (Leadership Camp) has taught me to be a better leader, and to be accepting of all.” Molly Adams ’20 added, “Attending this camp has given me an opportunity to grow as an individual and leader. It has allowed me to look and learn at situations or people from a different perspective. Also, I was given the chance to provide information on what makes Little Flower great.”