The Leadership Initiative

The Leadership Initiative

In the fall of 2013, Salisbury embarked upon the formation of a Leadership program led by six faculty members and the president of the student body.  Since that time, the program has taken on several different initiatives. The main goal is assisting our boys in identifying and developing within themselves key skills allowing them to lead successfully in a variety of endeavors. 

These multi-faceted initiatives are woven throughout all that we do--from the curriculum to extracurricular activities--so as to enhance the multiple opportunities for boys to listen and learn about qualities good leaders cultivate.

From Day One
The School works hard to instill character traits we value as a community starting with a boy’s first day on the Hilltop.  Orientation provides peer leaders and prefects with the opportunity to welcome new boys and demonstrate leadership skills by promoting what being a Crimson Knight is all about.  In addition, all students and faculty members participate in the second day of Orientation--one filled with team building exercises in which the student body is divided into four societies. These societies gathered their names from the former inhabitants of Old Sarum. Romans, Vikings, Saxons, and Normans are woven into activities throughout the year, which promote qualities of a Salisbury Gentleman.

In the Classroom
Classes approach the topic of leadership in a variety of methods and the Leadership Initiative Committee brainstorms with instructors to construct appropriate means of teaching the notion. Recent examples include:

  • Leaders in a field: We have encouraged our teaching faculty to use outside contacts in order to enhance the student’s knowledge on the subject by inviting leaders within a field to speak. Most times this is done via Skype directly into the classroom through large screen projection. David Dodge, instructor in Biology, invited Angus Scrimgeour, Nutritional Biochemist for the US Army, to speak via skype to his class and all interested.
  • The Cognitive Neuroscience class studied the Social Change Model of Leadership, which connects individual and group values to society/community values when bringing about change.
  • Seminars on leadership will be held throughout the spring every Thursday afternoon. Students will be lead in discussion by a rotating group of faculty that have an interest and passion in a certain trait or style of leadership. Students will be able to build a “Leadership Portfolio” which they can build on and pull from for years to come.

During Advisory Period
Faculty members meet with their advisees in a group setting once a week and have been focusing on the topic of “The Self” this academic year. Attention has been given to individual goal setting and identifying strengths and weaknesses.  Conversations have also included good study habits, disciplined preparation for exams, and how to ask teachers for extra help.  Many times a brief video accompanies these discussions.

Guest Speakers
The School is fortunate to have had numerous lecturers come to campus.  Some have promoted responsibility, courage and commitment while others have shared lessons learned from tackling hardships and perseverance; each has offered the boys a much broader view of the world. Highlights of the 2013-2014 speaker series have included:
  • Chris Waddell – An American Paralympic sit-skier and wheelchair track athlete. He was a promising able-bodied skier while attending Middlebury College in Vermont, before a skiing accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Chris spoke to the entire community on the idea of perseverance through adversity and labels we put on ourselves that can either help or hurt us in achieving our goals.
  • One Love Foundation – In support of domestic violence abuse education, Salisbury has teamed up with the One Love Foundation (OLF). Salisbury and OLF will be working towards a form specific program aimed at educating and inspiring our young men to speak up and take action against relationship violence. 
  • Eric Barthold – A graduate of Colby College, Eric will be speaking with the third and fourth formers about what we all can do to make the transition from boy to man an easier and more predictable transition.
  • Cornerstone Reputation – A program lead by Princeton graduates that aims to educate high school students on healthier behavioral habits with technology.

Leading Groups and Teams
Segments of this new program have been designed to specifically work with students in leadership positions at the School as a way to help the boys hone skills which will improve their impact and allow for greater success in creating a positive academic and residential environment. Examples consist of:

  • The revision of prefect leadership program materials.  These updated guidelines offer student dormitory leaders a clearer sense of purpose, expectations and responsibilities, and ways in which the boys themselves can create and implement a positive dorm culture by bringing out the best in residents.  In addition, this year’s prefects attend bi-weekly meetings where leadership strategies, brainstorming and character building are introduced through various methods.
  • The Big Brother Program: 20 Salisbury students serve as mentors and role models in their role as a Big Brother to local youths. They spend two hours together every Friday night doing activities that range from playing sports to cooking to doing homework.
  • Student Government-sponsored community events in which fostering school spirit is key (i.e. Sarum Sprints and Domain of Dominance--a dodge ball competition by dorm).
  • A full day of training to be held this spring with the 2015-2016 prefects and peer leaders.  Eric Kapitulik, former Navy SEAL and founder of “The Program” will lead this in-service day. “The Program” uses experiential and classroom time to teach the boys the importance of communication and accountability when leading any group. 

Looking to the Future
With the rousing success of the program this year, the committee is working closely with the headmaster to create additional offerings for the boys across a variety of disciplines.  This summer, all students will be assigned summer reading that focuses on the topic of leadership. Additional classroom opportunities are also being developed, as is the possibility of a summer school session focused on leadership.

Program Leaders

  • Julian Coleman '17, School President
  • Kirk Hall ’90, School Chaplain
  • Brian Phinney, Associate Director of Admissions and Co-Director of the Leadership Initiative
  • Jamie Phinney, College Advisor and Co-Director of the Leadership Initiative
  • Jennifer Siff, Associate Director of Admissions, Instructor in English and Student Government Advisor
  • Beth Hammond, Director of Health Services

Recent Advisory Discussion Topics

  • Personal Growth
    • Identifying one's own strengths and weaknesses
    • Setting goals
  • Academic Planning
    • How to ask teachers for help
    • How to stay on top of assignments
    • How to get ahead on assignments
    • Planning for exams
  • Social Issues
    • Dorm
    • Team
    • Dining Hall
  • How to Better Our Community
    • Community service
    • Student leadership roles

Videos Shown During Recent Advisory Meetings

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We are a private, all-boy boarding high school in Connecticut committed to shaping high schooled-aged boys into men of character and promise who can rise to the challenges of the modern world.

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