Leadership Projects for High School Students

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Looking for ideas about how to promote leadership skills in high school students? This lesson gives a few project ideas that can be modified to fit the needs of your students.

What is Leadership?

The worst thing you can do while helping to develop students' leadership skills is suggest that there is just one definition of leadership. Often, people define leadership as holding a position of power (usually in a company of some sort) in which they have direct control over other people. Although this can certainly be called leadership, there are many other examples of great leadership that do not fit this stereotype. For example, being a good influence on others to be exemplary citizens, doing the right thing when your peers are not, and volunteering for the tasks that others see as undesirable could all be examples of leadership skills in action. When it comes to leadership, it is more about inspiring others and being a contributing member of society. Below are a few ideas to help students develop this important skill.

Volunteer to Care for Others

Many communities have ample opportunities to volunteer your time, and high school students are often welcomed with open arms at various organizations. Caring for others (e.g. the elderly or children) is a great way to develop leadership-related skills like empathy, sympathy, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking. Interacting with others in a role in which you are giving care of some sort is a surefire way to build a strong leadership foundation that can be further developed in other future experiences.

Become a Leader in an Organization

Many high school students are already a member of at least one organization, either through the school or through the community. Especially at the high school and young adult level, many organizations offer leadership opportunities, like running for an elected position (e.g. president of the Spanish Club) or taking on a leadership role for a special project (e.g. coordinating an event for the Girl Scouts). Any position in which other people depend on you to make sound decisions and contribute greatly to the overall good of the organization will help to build leadership skills.

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