Society often refers to “the call to lead.” This term refers to the moment in life when you receive an external, almost divine, sign that calls you to leadership. I would love to believe that this sign can also be internal and spiritual. Many people even feel that there is a defining moment in life when you are prompted or encouraged to take that step towards leadership.
Loyola is an institution that offers that moment and opportunity. All members of the community, from students and teachers to parents and administrators, are given the opportunity to step forward as leaders. It is especially important for the students to know that those opportunities are there for them, and it is up to the educators to create the opportunities and empower the students to step forward with courage.
Leadership at Loyola is based on the concept of servant leadership, doing things for others and helping others. John 13:1-20 records one depiction of Jesus’ servant leadership. It is the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Leaders were not supposed to serve their followers. But Jesus did, and in so doing, He modelled the perfect example of a servant leader. Jesuit leadership is exactly that, serving your brothers and sisters. In fact, servant leadership is at the center of the leadership ideals that the Society of Jesus is based upon.
I have been blessed to be an educator at a Jesuit school and a member of the Loyola community for twelve years. In that time, I have been fortunate to serve the community in many ways.
AS TEACHER AND COACH
Being an educator is the most effective way to serve my students. In the classroom, relationships are created and fostered. I believe students learn better when they know their coach or teacher genuinely cares about them and their success. As an educator I try to influence my students:
By helping them to see that there is a world beyond their sphere of influence.
By creating an environment that encourages a strong work ethic and the ability to think.
By guiding their choices and helping them become better persons.
It is especially important for me that my students learn how to be good individuals, rather than just knowing the number of valence electrons for oxygen. Content is important, but I try to emphasize critical thinking, skills, and experience.
THROUGH THE SCHOOL’S GLOBAL COMMITTEE
I have been honored to serve on many committees, but none has been as impactful for me as my work on the School’s Global Committee. Through my work on this committee, I have been given the opportunity to explore and establish a partnership between Loyola School and Saint Ignace de Loyola, a Jesuit school in Bedou, a small town in the north-east of Haiti. This experience has also been a personal one for me as I am a son of Haiti. In partnering with the Haitian school, Loyola has tried to help meet some of their needs by donating athletic apparels to their athletic programs as well as contributed to their English learning program through a weekly bake sale campaign, “Baking for Bedou,” led by Delaney Privateer and Ms. Andrea McDermott. In this way, we have tried to create space for collective learning for the students of both schools through the exchange of stories. These stories convey the students’ respective cultures, history, and values. Through this exchange we build familiarity and trust, and establish relationships where the student listeners and learners meet one another where they are.
This August at Loyola we will introduce the INES program, a pilot enrichment program for young women, and I am proud to be one of the Loyola teachers who will take part in this inaugural program. The program has been christened INES, in honor of Inés Pascual, a dear friend of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and first benefactor to the Society of Jesus. This program seeks to support those young women from 7th grade:
By preparing them academically to attend strong Catholic schools.
By preparing them to take the SSAT.
By accompanying them with mentoring in order and form them into future leaders in their communities.
I am grateful to have had these opportunities to serve at Loyola through the past years, and there are two questions that remain.
When did I get my call to lead?
Well, I never really did. Like everyone in this community, I began to lead when I joined Loyola. As Chris Lowney says “We are all leaders, and we are leading all the time.” The call to lead is not really a call, but a discernment process to which one responds personally and in community. As you respond, you grow into your leadership. I would invite you to listen to that “call.” It’s been calling you all along….. just take the time to listen.
How many valence electrons in oxygen?
By Jacques Joseph