Nourishing Student Leadership: Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders and Global Citizens

July 09, 2024

Angelie Duimovic

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership

Leaders are insightful, courageous, empathetic and driven members of society that lead the charge to make the world a better place. Global citizens are motivated advocates ready to implement lasting change through their conscious impact on the world. If asked for an example of a leader and/or a global citizen, most people would name a successful adult, but there’s no reason why the next generation can’t join in on difference-making efforts. Along with cultivating these mindsets in their students, teachers can also encourage students to become leaders and global citizens today.

Imagine that a future pop singer is told they cannot take singing lessons until they can fill a stadium, or a future basketball player is told they cannot dribble a ball until they make it to the NBA. Absurd, right? This is why we don’t need to wait to develop students’ leadership and global citizenship until they are adults. So, let’s discuss why student leadership is important, and then outline simple steps to support and empower the leaders and global citizens of today and tomorrow.

Developing student leadership and global citizenship helps students learn about their identities. Global citizenship is often already a part of their daily lives. In 2021, 10.6% of public school students were identified as multilingual or English language learners. This percentage only accounts for students who have not yet reached English language proficiency. Language is just the tip of the iceberg. Engaging in global citizenship provides students with the opportunity to reflect on their identities, learn about the identities of others, find common ground and celebrate what makes everyone unique.

Student leadership also creates stronger school communities. Students are a school’s number one stakeholder.  Oftentimes, well-intentioned adults make decisions for students without ever consulting them. While there are some decisions regarding safety or fiscal responsibility that should be left to adults, involving students in leadership strengthens the bonds between students and adults. Students can serve in many capacities where they can inform decisions and serve as role models for each other.

Through leadership, students develop empathy. True leadership is about listening to others to learn about their strengths, needs and experiences. When students serve as leaders, they must be open to the perspectives of others. Curious students make exceptional leaders, as they are more adept at asking questions and making things better for others and their environment.

Here are a few simple ways to support student leadership and global citizenship:

  1. Student panels – Invite students to conferences and school board meetings so they can speak about their experiences and perspectives. Prepare students by practicing questions they could be asked.
  2. Membership on advisory boards – Give students a seat at the table before, during and after implementing new programs and initiatives. Model active listening for students with curiosity about their perspectives.
  3. Club participation – Encourage students to take on leadership roles as members of clubs within their interests. Prompt them to consider how to make clubs and school activities inclusive for all students.
  4. Students as mentors – Connect students by pairing younger students with older students who can serve as role models. Pay attention to who shows heightened social awareness and harness it to support others.

Students as young as fourth grade can be successful leaders and global citizens. Students at the kindergarten age or younger can begin to develop empathy and learn about their identities. Tell your students they are global citizens and leaders. Scaffold their skills and create opportunities for them to prove themselves. As educators, we can either wait for students to figure things out as adults or we can nourish their leadership and global citizenship now.

Browse the education programs at American College of Education that are designed to equip you to lead students to be the best they can be.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Angelie Duimovic
Angelie Duimovic, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership

Angelie Duimovic is a bilingual Latina leader with a passion for educational equity and global citizenship. She is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Leadership with a focus of study in Second Language Instruction at ACE. Duimovic leads through her core values of curiosity, creativity, appreciation for beauty and excellence, fairness, hope and humor. Angelie has 20 years of experience in Florida and Washington State as a Title I and dual language school leader, teacher and district leader in content areas including science, social studies, Spanish, gifted and multilingual education. Her vision is to cultivate curious and creative leaders and scholars with hearts grounded in equity, who courageously build a better tomorrow. She lives in the Greater Seattle Area with her husband Ivan, their sons Goran and Luka, and their dog Bella. Duimovic is forever a Boricua, born and raised in Puerto Rico. She is a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, educator, writer, scholar, reader, nature lover and traveler who sees every day as a new adventure.

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