“You are never too small to make a difference.”
Greta Thunberg, Environmental Activist
Leadership Scope and Sequence at CSS

Our leadership curriculum and social and emotional learning programs rely on cutting-edge research and trends as well as the strengths that have always distinguished The Colorado Springs School: small classes, mentorship in our strong Middle School and Upper School advisee program, and the authentic challenges of our expedition and seminar programs. At CSS, our goal is not to emulate certain leadership styles or actions but to put each student on a path to becoming an emotionally and socially aware person who can help a group define and achieve its goals. Our leadership curriculum proceeds from the assumption that anyone can cultivate empathy and the courage to work with people to meet authentic challenges.

Allowing students to experience leadership challenges and grow their own personal leadership style at CSS is one of our central functions. Our curriculum is informed by best practices from the National Outdoor Leadership School, the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute, Yale’s RULER program, the NAIS Schools of the Future project, and The Colorado Springs School’s Walkabout curriculum.

Leadership and Teamwork as defined by the NAIS Schools of the Future Project and our Digital Portfolio standards

  • Initiate new ideas
  • Lead through influence
  • Build trust, resolve conflicts, and provide support for others
  • Facilitate group discussions, forge consensus, and negotiate outcomes
  • Teach, coach, and counsel others
  • Enlist help
  • Collaborate sensitively and productively with people of varied backgrounds
  • Coordinate tasks, manage groups, and delegate responsibilities
  • Implement decisions and meet goals

I. Examples of the leadership challenges and opportunities in the Children’s School:

  • Students taking pride in their work as they complete assigned classroom jobs
  • Leading classroom activities and sharing with groups as the Star of the Week
  • Going through the hiring process and working as a letter carrier or supervisor in intra-campus Wee Mail
  • Facing the authentic challenges of camping and group tasks during Colorado Expedition e,g. setting up tents, cooking/cleaning, creating skits, and leading songs
  • Engaging in conversation with an older or younger student during book buddies meeting time
  • Serving as the Reader of the Week
  • Completing independent projects that require ownership, e.g. writing a bill
  • Serving as a student monitor in the lunchroom
  • Participating in 21st Century Friendship Groups
  • Serving as a student leader during Children’s School assemblies

II. Examples of the leadership challenges and opportunities in the Middle School:

  • Serving as an elected Student Council representative
  • Serving as an advisee representative
  • Acting as a Leader of the Day during one of the three Middle School seminars
  • Touring prospective students as an Admission ambassador
  • Serving as an elected or appointed sports captain
  • Teaching to individual peers or a class
  • Leading warm-ups in Physical Education classes or refereeing competitive/semi-competitive/non-competitive games in PE
  • Leading discussions/debriefs in class
  • Facilitation of student-to-student conflict resolution
  • Serving as a student leader in organizing games or initiatives
  • Supervising the handling of class equipment, etc.

III Examples of the leadership challenges and opportunities in the Upper School:


  • Facilitation of student-to-student conflict resolution
  • Touring prospective students as an Admission ambassador


  • Serving as a peer tutor in the classroom
  • Creating and delivering “student expert” lessons, e.g. recently our AP Statistics students taught a section on statistics for AP Psychology; a student shared his research on Mayan Civilization to a younger 10th graders in World History.
  • Leading a section in a band or providing lessons to younger band students

Student Council

  • Serving as a class officer (9-12) and formally mentored by faculty class sponsors
  • Forum: executive officers (formally mentored by faculty forum sponsors)
  • Leading an ad-hoc committee for specific events, e.g. fundraisers or prom


  • Serving as an elected club officer
  • Carrying out carnival booth planning and execution
  • KICS (Kodiaks in Community Service) serving as a managers for concessions
  • Leading a small committee for KICS
  • Serving as an elected representative for National Honor Society executive committee
  • Model UN: presiding officers; compilation of materials and organizing when we host
  • Sharing club activities with younger students on Founders’ Day


  • Serving as Leader of the Day/Specific Jobs during our Experience-Centered Seminar
  • Leading one of the important post-trip assignments (presentation, video, iPhoto book, poster)
  • Interacting with younger CSS students through the ECS and Book Buddies program, e.g. planning a lesson for the younger kids

Extracurricular (Sports, Drama)

  • Assisting coaches with Middle School teams and summer camps
  • Helping to lead the production of a play as a stage manager

Full Steam Ahead

  • Earning the role of Mentor in our FFull Steam Ahead summer program, e.g. serving as a teaching assistant, lead elective teacher, or general mentor for middle school children