Culminating Leadership Projects

Our Leaders at Work

While at the Alzar School, students develop a project to improve their home communities. These Culminating Leadership Projects (affectionately known as “CLPs”) allow graduates to demonstrate the leadership skills they learned at Alzar School and make a difference in the world.  The requirements for a project to be a CLP are that it should coordinate the efforts of a group of people, be meaningful and unique, and benefit a group of people or address an issue in the community the student belongs to. It should not be solo work or volunteer hours at an organization, nor should it only benefit any one individual or business. The Culminating Leadership Projects are entirely student-driven, and are the start of young people becoming lifelong community leaders.

Preparation While at Alzar School

Students first identify a problem or issue they are passionate about. They use the “Story of Self, Us, and Now” model developed by Marshall Ganz to create a public narrative, then craft a mission statement to lay out what they hope to accomplish with their CLP. The students conduct research on the issue and look for ways to engage locally, including reaching out to individuals and organizations currently working on the issue in their home towns. Students create a 8-12 page plan outlining the steps they will take to implement their Culminating Leadership Project, then have these plans reviewed by their peers and teachers at Alzar School, as well as by their families and friends back home. The plans include a rough schedule of tasks and events to accomplish the mission of the project. And, they boil everything down into a 60-second “elevator pitch,” so they are ready to share their vision with anyone, any time. Once the Alzar School student graduates, he/she is ready to be a project leader!

Implementing the Culminating Leadership Project at Home

To implement their plan, the Alzar School graduates start by hosting an informational meeting where they lay out their vision. The goal of the first informational meeting is to cast a wide net, allowing the project leader to recruit a diverse “action team” (the group of 5-8 volunteers who will work most closely with them to complete the project). The project leader and his/her action team will then complete the steps they have laid out in action sessions (whether it’s building a community garden, organizing a series bike repair clinic, or installing art in hospital wards).

Celebrating and Reflecting

Throughout the entire implementation of the Culminating Leadership Project, Alzar School graduates are enrolled in an online course. This course allows them to interact with their cohort and share their experiences. As we all know, creating positive social change is hard work, and the online course provides a support network for these young leaders. Through online discussion boards, they reflect on their experiences, celebrate victories and commiserate defeats. They also compose the copy and media for their portion of the Alzar School’s website and write a final reflection, earning a semester of academic credit for their efforts.

Examples of Projects

Check out a few of the recently completed CLPs!

Continuing to Lead

We hope to instill in our students the sense of confidence and responsibility to be lifelong leaders who are actively working to make the world a better place.  We know that Alzar School students will have many formal and informal opportunities to lead after they finish their Culminating Leadership Project. First, each year our Board of Directors selects two students to join the school’s Advisory Committee, where they offer an essential perspective as the school works towards continual improvement. Outside of Alzar School, our graduates have gone on to hold leadership roles as community organizers for education reform, student directors of college outdoor programs, trip leaders for summer camps, and researchers for conservation groups.