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Whole Child Leadership

By: Danielle Gonsalves and Kristi Granquist American School of Brasilia


creating an acceptable use policy for technology on LS field trips

The American School of Brasília’s (EAB) mission aims to “support the whole child in achieving his or her own potential” as well as “cultivate responsible and contributing citizens, leaders, and environmental stewards.” In the Lower School (LS), we have emphasized whole child development through our approach to academic instruction as well as through after school activities. In order to promote the leadership aspect of our mission in previous years, Lower School students represented their classmates on the Lower School Student Council (StuCo). Two students from each class would meet once a week to plan events for the Lower School.

Recess Committee using a playground map to plan a recess activity

Recess Committee using a playground map to plan a recess activity

After reflecting on this model at the beginning of this school year, we realized that by having only a select group of students serve on the Lower School StuCo, we weren’t giving enough of our students opportunities to be leaders. In addition, we wanted to meet the goals of our school’s mission in a broader context. This realization led to the creation of the 4th and 5th Grade Leadership Councils. Students attended a presentation that informed them of how they could become more involved as leaders of the Lower School. They then selected their preferred Leadership Council from seven choices:

• Kindergarten Helpers: model appropriate lunch time behavior, design recess activities, receive and respond to teacher feedback

• Recess Committee: creates and facilitates games and activities for LS students during recess

• Eco Freako: collaborates with the Upper School’s EAB Goes Green group to raise awareness of and action toward environmental stewardship

• Service Learning: encourages others to recognize their role as interdependent citizens of EAB as well as the Brasilense community • Social Committee: organizes social events for LS students, whose profits benefit our school and the Brasilense community • Character Counts! Committee: plans and hosts LS assemblies based on the character value of the month

• Leadership Principles: reflects on current LS policies and partners with school leaders to implement change

Service Learning students organizing a fundraising initiative for a local children’s hospital

Service Learning students organizing a fundraising initiative for a local children’s hospital

Students gather with their councils once in each eight-day cycle. During this period, they have the chance to be leaders in a capacity about which they feel passionate. It’s because of channeling these individual passions that this new model has already resulted in rippling effects.

Students have learned that they can use their talents and values to make an authentic impact on themselves and those around them. Not only are they motivated to take the necessary actions for this impact, but now they also believe that they have the power to make a difference.


Eco Freako students writing a letter to solicit support for their EAB Garden plans


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