Break Down Barriers

Shari Benites, coordinator of Equity and Excellence and director of the Center for Leadership and Public Service at Yorktown High School in Arlington, VA, says the following barriers can limit the access and participation of students in your program:

  • A lack of knowledge of NHS and the benefits of membership
  • A lack of understanding of how to complete an application, especially how to describe experiences
  • Limited access to opportunities to complete service requirements
  • Limited opportunities for students with disabilities and English-language learners

Display Your Ethics

Advisers have the ability to help students understand, practice, and eventually adopt ethical leadership traits based upon their own willingness to “wear” their ethics in full view of others. Advisers should be careful to display:

  • Their commitment to the profession
  • Their commitment to the school
  • Their commitment to the student program (NHS, NJHS, or NatStuCo)
  • Their commitment to their students

Make Leadership Inclusive

Nara Lee, director of student leadership at NASSP, suggests advisers use the following guiding questions to inform their inclusionary practices:

  • What is the “new student” experience like at your school, especially for students with disabilities or English-language learners?
  • How does your school create a welcoming environment for all students? Are there specific supports, programs, or behaviors you can identify?
  • What does it mean to be part of your school community?
  • Are your student leaders representative of your student body?

Prepare Your Students for Candidacy

Bryce Awono, senior at Parkdale High School in Riverdale, MD, and president of the Maryland Association of Student Councils, advises that students take time for self-reflection before they put themselves forth as potential candidates for leadership positions. These are the questions they should pose to themselves before deciding to run:

  • What am I planning to do in office?
  • Can I do a better job than the person currently in office?
  • How can I help those around me while I’m in office?
  • Am I dedicated enough to serve my peers to the best of my ability?
  • Knowing everything about myself, would I vote for me?