High school is a time when leadership skills become vital. Besieged by peer pressure and temptation, teenagers need leadership skills to stand up for themselves, and the actions they are or are not comfortable with. Teenagers need to learn that exhibiting leadership does not make them bossy people, but is a sign of high self esteem.
Mentoring opportunities demonstrate leadership skills to high school students. Pairing upper-level high school students with entering freshmen is an opportunity for teenagers to show the younger students through the ropes of high school. Alternatively, high school students can mentor younger, underprivileged students from alternate areas of the city, passing on lessons and opportunities that they have learned.
One of the issues that can prevent high school students from building leadership skills is that they don't have experience outside of their schools or homes. Getting students out into the community by volunteering at senior citizen centers not only gives seniors the treat of interacting with young people, but helps to teach young people about historical events that they might only know from textbooks. Students can conduct interviews about events like World War II, the Depression or the Holocaust.
One of the hard parts of being a teenager is sometimes a pervading feeling of powerlessness, as teenagers often spend the majority of their time in environments controlled by adults. Encourage high school students to make a list of things they'd like to change about their school. Monitor their lists to make sure they list appropriate ideas. For example, introducing a school recycling plan is relevant, whereas getting the school to play rap music over the loudspeakers each morning is not. Have students with similar goals form groups and strategize how they can go about implementing their changes. Tell students to document their efforts to implement the changes they decided upon and to submit progress reports and results for evaluation.
It's important for teenagers to feel excited about the future and to have a sense of empowerment when it comes to planning their lives. Have students make top-five lists of careers they are interested in. Tell students to seek out internships or opportunities to shadow actual professionals in one of these jobs. Students must write their resumes, contact potential employers, pitch themselves and their skills, ask for an internship or shadowing opportunity and organize such opportunities into their schedules.
Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."