They say we should all be leaders, not followers, and starting in the 2016-2017 school year, MFS sophomores will have no choice but to lead.
“Leadership: Skills and Style,” previously an elective open to all grades, has become a required class for the entirety of the tenth grade. The course, taught by Head of School Larry Van Meter and Director of Auxiliary Programs Martha Cameron, teaches vital leadership skills. According to Van Meter, the school administration changed the course from optional to mandatory because, “Kids coming out of Moorestown Friends are really well-positioned to be leaders in complex organizations today. . . this class [would have been] helpful for everyone who has been in the Upper School at Moorestown Friends.”
In establishing this class as compulsory for all tenth grade students, the administration was forced to remove the Ethics course, which had previously been the mandatory tenth grade class. Mr. Van Meter noted that, “This course was not intended to be a replacement for the Ethics course… If there had been room to continue with the Ethics course in the schedule, we surely would have done that.” Van Meter went on to explain that the ninth grade Quakerism requirement and eleventh grade World Religions requirement left no place for the Ethics course to continue, though he does plan on including ethical leadership in the Leadership course’s curriculum in order to sustain that aspect of the class. As for why Leadership was chosen for the 10th grade specifically, Mr Van Meter says that it was largely a matter of scheduling; however, he feels that sophomore year is an ideal time to offer the course because while it is not “right off the bat” like freshman year, sophomores will still have two full years of high school to put their leadership skills to use within the MFS community.
In the course, speeches and other formal assignments are 50% of the grade, and in-class participation makes up the other 50%. Since Leadership students receive a percentage grade rather than a pass/fail grade, this system could potentially disadvantage students who are not as comfortable speaking in class.
On the whole, it seems that this new course will be beneficial to MFS sophomores; public speaking, after all, is an important part of leadership, and once students get comfortable with that, Van Meter and the rest of the administration expects them to excel. From there, well, the upperclassmen better watch out; the sophomore class is ready to lead.