The Roots of Leadership

November 15, 2016 - 6 minutes read
Phoebe MacLeod (Centre) with sister Charlotte MacLeod (Left) and friend Molly Mackie (Right).

Phoebe MacLeod (Centre) with sister Charlotte MacLeod (Left) and friend Molly Mackie (Right).

Phoebe MacLeod, a Grade 5 student at Eagle Harbour Montessori, perches comfortably between her sister and friend on the stage area in her classroom, going over some digital material together. A mature and articulate young girl, Phoebe is one of those insightful individuals that others seek out for guidance and advice, and today she’s offering to help them crop a photo for a project.

She played that leading role this fall, when the idea that she researched and presented for the school’s annual continent study (South America) was chosen by her peers. Her selection of the Galapagos Conservation Trust was also one of two successful charitable ideas selected by students, the other being for the Freekicks organization.

“Each month, we work in groups to learn about the charity, learn about the region, raise awareness and develop fundraisers for the causes we’ve selected. Ideas are submitted by each team, and we decide which one will be posted for a specific month. In December or January, we look at all the ideas and choose the ‘one big idea’ to which we will all contribute.”

In addition to geography, Phoebe also loves fine arts, and she has a natural talent that many are delighted to see.

“Phoebe is one of the leaders in the school,” says her Grade 5 teacher, Stephen Price. “In addition to her passion for art, she is a thoughtful and consistent contributor whose contributions help bring the level of other students up.”

Not limited to two dimensions, Phoebe is taking her creative side to new levels in other artistic areas, and she has mature insight into the value that other subjects can offer for those who are willing to see the advantages.

“I took a class in pottery and really liked that – I also enjoy sketching, drawing, painting and working with watercolour,” says Phoebe. “Geography is another favourite subject because it helps me learn about history and space, so I’m able to see how things change over time.”

phoebe-m-2This year will be Phoebe’s last at the K-5 Montessori school, to which she transferred after a short time in a French school for children with French parents. She’s learned a lot in a short period of time, but says she found Grade 4 to be the most difficult year. She found the deeper emphasis on organizational skills at that grade level, which is typical across schools for all transitions from Grade 3-4 – was initially quite a challenge. As part of student-led learning and more emphasis on organizing her own work, her class was given a number of projects at once, and asked to organize and deliver them before the end of the term.

“In Grade 4 we had a different teacher than we’d had for the first three years, and I thought at the time that he had pretty big expectations – it was a big jump, and I found it hard to focus. But we learned to regulate our time, and I started to use my planner. I had a little bit of help from my parents, but I thought that it was a good experience and I’m proud that I was able to add organizational skills to my creative side,” says Phoebe.

Phoebe says there’s a lot of time for both group work and individual projects at her school, and though she recognizes and enjoys the fact that sometimes you get more done when you’re doing your own thing, the group work is fun.

Active as well, Phoebe has been enrolled weekly for three years in aerial silks training at the North Vancouver location of Vancouver Circus School, and plays field hockey with her friends. Her family, including her parents, a sister a year younger than herself and her pet conure, resides near the school in West Vancouver.

Phoebe is a budding leader: where she’s needed, she lends a hand. She gives credit to friends for sharing their own strengths, passion and ideas. When a situation is difficult, she perseveres until the path is clear. And when she’s presented with a new idea, she looks for the opportunity it brings. Wishing you the very best as you embark on your next adventure in Grade 6, for which you are well prepared, Phoebe!