Growing Student Leaders


This year we have looked at ways to increase leadership roles and opportunities for our students. One role we created was a Student on Special Assignment (S.O.S.A). Originally six students were selected for this role. A teacher nominated two students who were seen as leaders in their class. I selected two students who always stepped up to help and demonstrated leadership qualities. Another student was selected because she consistently displayed excellent levels of customer service as a classroom greeter. Finally another student was selected after consulting with his teacher and having observed his leadership skills in several capacities. These six students stepped up and helped lead our school in ways we never expected.

The S.O.S.A.’s were charged with creating a job description and expectations. I provided a few samples of job descriptions and resources, but here is what the team of six came up with after meeting for several weeks:

Job Title: Student on Special Assignment

Report to: Principal

Job Summary:  Students in Grades 3-6 are eligible to apply. Students on Special Assignment are responsible and held accountable for providing guided tours to people visiting our school. Students will speak to our leadership focus and how they use the seven habits. Students will share our school blueprint with school and teacher goals and the seven habits tree telling our school story. Students will discuss student work samples and class mission statements posted throughout the school. The S.O.S.A is expected to demonstrate leadership and school pride. They focus on working through problems and synergizing with other students and staff.

Essential Duties: Read, speak, and write fluently. Be respectful. Maintain good grades (A or B’s). Set good examples. Listen to others. Be confident and have an outgoing personality. Be creative. Take change of your actions. Have minimal discipline referrals. Have good attendance.

Next they needed to decide what the interview process looked like. I must admit they were tougher and more thorough than I ever expected. Here are a few of the questions and the different components of the interview process:

Interview Questions

  1. Please share with us your current grades.
  2. How do you demonstrate leadership?
  3. Why is leadership important to you?
  4. Why do you want to be a Student on Special Assignment?
  5. What strengths do you have?
  6. In what ways are you mindful of your actions?
  7. Do you have any questions about this position?

Please write and respond to the following question: In what ways do you show leadership?

Please read the following statement aloud:

“Hi, my name is                                . As a student on special assignment I am always on task and work really hard. I try hard to be a good leader and student completing all my work in class. I am always on time to our meetings and look for ways to be a good leader while having fun!”

I was impressed with their sense of purpose as they created this complex interview process. They not only wanted to hear what the students had to say but better understand who they were through their writing and listening to them speak. They shared with me, “It is important that a S.O.S.A. represents our school, has school pride and to speak well to provide detailed information to our guests.” They had far exceeded my expectations and what I had envisioned their role being. And all I had to do was step out of the ways and create a space for them to come together and work. They did the rest.

Please stay tuned if you are interested in learning more about the S.O.S.A. interview process and the challenging decisions our student leaders had to make.


Jen Robinson

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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