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We are pleased at St. Gregory to announce and share our new opportunity for our high school students, diplomas in Leadership and Innovation .  As described in the slides above, the program allows those students who wish to go further in their leadership or innovation education can do so by pursuing one of these two diplomas in a program which functions in a way somewhat akin to a college major.

St. Gregory’s motto is to “Create Leaders and Innovators,” and I’m certainly confident that the school has long done exactly this, and that in recent years the school has taken very excellent steps forward in doing so even better.   Our school will continue to do so for all our students, and we will work to ensure that this new opportunity for some students to go further or deeper doesn’t in any way result in any diminished such education for all other students.

This program has a few parallels at other schools around our continent.  A particular inspiration for our initiative has been the Global Studies diploma offered by Providence Day School, which I first learned about at an NAIS conference in Chicago, two years ago.   To quote from the program website:

The Global Studies Diploma allows students in 9th through 12th grade to choose a curriculum and a set of experiences that focus on developing successful and responsible global citizens. Students who earn the Global Studies Diploma will have the knowledge, skills and attitudes to understand the nature of global interdependence and to think globally.

The program director at Providence Day, Dr. Loren Fauchier, met with me at the NAIS conference this past February, and told me his program has continued to be very successful, and that students have found it particularly valuable for both their learning and for their college applications.

A second program of which I am aware is at Canada’s Appleby College (which is a secondary school, despite its confusing to Americans nomenclature), which offers newly a “Global Leadership” diploma.  If readers of this blog post are award of additional such programs, I’d be delighted if you would share them by leaving a comment.

At St. Gregory we are cognizant of and committed to addressing the concerns of the film Race to Nowhere, and it is not our intent that this program be one which adds a dramatic number of additional hours of work for our hard-working student.   By and large, the program requirements are intended to build upon school studies and extra-curricular experiences students are doing already, or would be doing, but to do so with an added layer of intention and reflection.  In this way, the experiences add up to a greater sum than when they are completed without the special diploma program.

I should add one more thought:  I think this diploma is very different from an award.   Regular readers here know that our school is moving away from awards in our school culture, for reasons explained here, and perhaps some may say that this diploma is a form of award and hence we are contradicting ourselves.    I disagree.  First, the analogy or metaphor we are working with for this diploma is that of a college major, and I have never heard someone suggest a college major is an inappropriate type of award or motivation.   A diploma, college or high school, or  a college major is a clear goal that students set their sights upon, determine what it will to accomplish, and then complete those units and earn that recognition.    This diploma is available to all who work to earn it, rather than being an award given only to a very select few, and by virtue of its exclusivity, is a “prize” the pursuit of can be distorting in motivation or stress.    Its criteria for awarding are also entirely clear cut and objective, rather than being the result of the subjectivity of an awards jury.