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How We Carefully Cultivate our Student Leaders

“As we look into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” 

Bill Gates. 

Did you know that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team and is now a six-time NBA champion, five-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA all-star? Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and having no creative ideas. He went on to create Mickey Mouse and the Disney empire and won 22 Academy Awards. 

At our opening Senior Division assembly, students watched the movie, Famous Failures, where they heard these stories and others. These lessons inspired the students to set their own goals for success and determine how they could become leaders within their own lives. 

Leadership does not look the same in all circumstances and for all students; it comes in many different forms. Our students learn that successful leaders set goals and boundaries, communicate, innovate, and influence. They help to foster new ideas and growth, they make a difference and create change and excitement. 

At Bialik, we begin to cultivate leaders when our students enter JK. We believe that each and every student at Bialik has the ability to be a leader, and we strive to give them as many opportunities as possible and bring out their leadership qualities. Despite having to endure the COVID changes, challenges and inconsistencies over the past two years, our students have been very keen to get involved in the many opportunities to lead assemblies, drives and campaigns and spearhead the spirit days that have helped to keep our ruach alive. 

One doesn’t have to be the Student Council President, play on a sports team, be a House Captain or the Yearbook Editor to be a leader at school. You just need to be someone who is passionate about a cause and gets involved in sharing your ideas in a positive way. Many leaders are famous for their accomplishments but students learn that it is important to acknowledge that many leaders have also faced failure.  

What does effective student leadership look like? 

  • Great leaders have good communication skills, enabling them to share their voice with others.
  • Great leaders motivate others to participate and work towards a common goal.
  • Great leaders are good listeners.
  • Great leaders build community.

One of the many student opportunities to develop strong leadership qualities at Bialik is through the Bialik House program. Students in Grades 2 – 8 are members of one of our four Houses: Ben-Gurion Weizzman (BGW), Bar-Ilan Tel Aviv (BITA), Haifa Technion (Haifa) and Hebrew University (Hebrew U). Through House activities, we support older students as role models for younger students and allow the House Captains and Banner Keepers to develop leadership skills and a sense of pride and responsibility. Bialik strives to promote effective leaders that believe in the importance of generosity and Tzedakah and embrace the philosophy of Menschlechkeit. Through Student Council initiatives, we have participated in food, book and technology drives to help give back to those who are less fortunate than us. The students have been responsible for promoting and building an awareness of important causes and ensuring their success. Students have led assemblies including Pride Month Awareness, Celebrating the Olympic Games, The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, Rabin Commemoration and Remembrance Day. Last year, our House Captains led the UJA Walk with Israel and promoted healthy living while also collecting House points and raising money for Israel. This was a big undertaking, but mastering these skills leads to building and empowering resilient and powerful leaders. 

Giving students a voice and leadership opportunities allows them to develop skills that they will be able to apply in the real world including: 

  • Time management
  • Goal-setting
  • Communication
  • Decision-making
  • Risk-taking
  • Advocating for a cause
  • Accountability
  • Empathy
  • Responsibility 

As we nurture student leaders, students are able to play an active role in innovation and making positive change and leading in an effective way. By establishing an environment at school for students to be involved through voice, passion, integrity and responsibility, we are providing students with an opportunity to make a difference. Student leadership is very important for a student’s development and my goal is for Bialik to continue to provide students with as many opportunities to grow, shine and meet their potential in a safe place as we cultivate the future leaders of tomorrow. Who knows, Bialik could be educating the next Steve Jobs! 

Lauren Damelin
Vice Principal, Himel East