Mindsets – a student leadership project

What makes a good school? Is it the ability to crank out 4.0 student robots or having the best sports teams? People often get trapped in these materialistic views that certain degrees and scores are what make up the entirety of an individual’s value, which is reflected on the majority of a school’s goals and efforts. However at Neuqua Valley, principal Dr. Lance Fuhrer believes that school should be much more than that—it should be focused on nurturing the most helpful tool in life: a student’s mindset.

Mindset is a new leadership program focusing on fostering leadership within students who already possess leadership roles in certain clubs or sports, but it’s also a program designed to encourage younger classmen to get more involved. With a mixture of upper and lower classmen, this program is designed to create an open space for active learning and listening, utilizing the benefit of having a variety of ideas and perspectives bounced off. Senior Devanshi Kothari, a representative of the program who is involved in many clubs and sports at Neuqua Valley, such as Wind Ensemble, Varsity tennis, Model UN and DECA, shared her insight on the benefits of intermingling with the different grades.

“As a senior, you think you got it all, you got it all figured out… with our routines… [However, t]here is a lot you can learn from the younger members of our school… they have their own perspectives [that we haven’t thought of before].”

“The end goal is just something that happens, but the journey is really what’s important.”

— Devanshi Kothari

The Mindset program focuses on this to promote listening, a vital skill of good leaders. Fuhrer wants to concentrate on this skill in Mindset as he believes that there is a misconception with what leadership truly is; being open-minded.

“A lot of kids think leadership is public speaking and… dictating decisions when leadership, often, is about listening and building consensus.”

These two skills are exactly what the school wants to build on with the Mindset program, which, with how this program is directed, will be emphasized in the first couple of sessions.

Mindset is a currency

— Dr Fuhrer

Sabrina Hadman, a freshman who is involved in Aspiring Medical Professionals , Youth and Government, Student Council and Drama Club spoke about her experience with the first meeting.

“It was very inclusive and welcoming, and in the end, everyone is going to learn something and achieve a goal. It’s a great opportunity; I don’t see a negative to this at all.”

The key to involving as much variety to this program is to garner (with different students active in many different clubs and activities) a melting pot of contrasting ideas. Fuhrer highlights that their main goal is to “lead a diverse group of people, and if you don’t have a diverse group of people, then you need to become so, because then you are only going to take a path of single minded thinking. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you better be adaptable. Whatever is coming our direction, don’t think for a minute you will have a full grasp of it and understand it.”

“Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.”

Within the first few meetings of the new Mindset program, Fuhrer hopes for students to take these lessons and incorporate them in their lives. By providing their newfound guidance and support to their surrounding peers, these students have the ability to add value as new leaders in their community.