Made possible with a grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation
At a luncheon in November of 2017, Brewster Head of School Craig Gemmell and Assistant Head of School for Advancement Kristy Kerin sat with other school administrators from around the state ruminating on a host of facts:
- Too few promising young leaders have the chance to stay in the opportunity pipeline in New Hampshire;
- Brewster, as a private institution with deep roots in the Lakes Region, has a responsibility to act as an agent of change in its own community;
- Too few public-private partnerships exist in New Hampshire in service to pressing needs;
- The Academy—like other boarding schools in the state—has under-exploited talents that could and should be employed in broader service.
This talk turned out to be more than just talk. Inspired, Gemmell returned to campus and, in a remarkably short time, convened a group that outlined a novel initiative involving independent and public school communities designed to nurture and develop the leadership potential of students starting in middle school and continuing throughout their high school years. Candidates with strong leadership potential but limited access to leadership development opportunities would be nominated by adult members of their communities. They would participate in the program at no cost.
With a grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation to support the inaugural year, the new summer program, led by longtime Brewster faculty member Michelle Rafalowski, brought to Brewster 18 rising seventh graders from the Lakes Region for an expansive week of self-awareness and leadership-based training. The program took them from campus to the Brown Center at UNH to the White Mountains, where students explored their personal strengths and values and learned strategies for effective communication and problem-solving. Each participant left with a Brewster upper-school mentor who would work one-on-one with them throughout the coming school year on goals that were meaningful to their home or school communities.
“I get deeply excited when I imagine the exponential influence of this program when it is scaled across all New Hampshire boarding schools,” says Gemmell. “The New Hampshire Leadership Program will change students’ lives, the school communities they enter, the communities in which they live—and, perhaps, change the future of our state.”