It’s one thing for students to join a club, make new friends, learn new skills or make positive use of their talents. But the benefits of participation can rise to new levels when a student chooses to take on a leadership role.

“Student leadership helps preteens and teenagers learn how to plan events, organize their time, hone their public speaking skills, and lead others,” observes Kristine Tucker, a curriculum developer and educator writing for eHow.com. “Leadership roles help equip students to manage team projects in high school, college, and eventually the workplace.”

Tucker says leadership roles gives students a voice, helps them develop organizational skills, and promotes opportunities to give back within a community. Also, “it suggests a high level of motivation,” which can be beneficial on college applications.

Darren Reed, K12’s vice president of school leadership development, observes that leadership is not a skill, trait or practice reserved only for adults—nor should it be.

“Youth leadership provides a great opportunity for young people to learn how to guide or direct others on a course of action, influence the opinion and behavior of other people, and ‘show the way,’ ” Reed says.

“K12 managed public schools provide students at all levels with a variety of leadership opportunities, through clubs and programs, to hone their leadership skills. This foundation builds confidence and serves as a base upon which students in K12 schools can build when they take on leadership qualities in high school, in college, and beyond.”

Melissa King, a K12 senior curriculum specialist, says that leaders not only possess a clear vision of targeted goals, but have the ability to communicate, understand, and assist others. “They have the ability to instill in others the willingness to go the extra mile to provide for the greater good,” she says.

K12 offers more than 100 student clubs to help students embrace hobbies and life skills as well as health and fitness activities. It’s a chance for students to impact their world by assisting charitable organizations, learning CPR/first aid or volunteering with meaningful community service. There are opportunities to be involved with everything from LEGO and chess to movies, dance, and foreign language.

Not only are there STEM-focused clubs for budding scientists and mathematicians, but plenty of opportunities to study history and literature, not to mention becoming involved in student government.

Here’s a look at what some of K12’s student leaders have been up to in recent months:

  • Tyler, from Pennsylvania, is student council president for K12 International Academy. “I wanted to become a student leader to help other students have an impactful voice in what transpires at the K12 International Academy,” he says. “The most challenging aspect is always maintaining an open mind, remaining unbiased, and accurately representing the majority vote in the student population. My greatest reward has been having the opportunity to–be a part of creating orientation sessions for incoming students at the International Academy and helping our council to grow in size, organization and in terms of the impact it is having.”
  • In her role as a youth leader in K12’s So Rad Summer (Summer of Online Really Awesome Discoveries), Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA) student Cayla created and presented four hour-long summer camp programs in music and crafts for grades K–3 students. Leading a program devoted to the arts was right up her alley because of Cayla’s skills as a classical pianist and budding recording artist. Beyond making music, bookmarks, and finger puppets, she found her leadership role to be “humbling,” calling it “an opportunity to empower, and, in return, be inspired. “Sometimes you need to face unexpected challenges,” she says. “I appreciated the chance to build students up, witness their growth, and (see them) flourish together with the rest of the team.”
  •  At Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA), Mary-Kate was elected to be her student council’s public relations officer and vice president of Meliora, the school honor society. She has also established her own dance club and participated in photography, art, and peer leadership. Working with her local library’s Book Buddies program, she helped younger children improve their reading skills. “I hope to gain people’s respect and trust from being a leader,” she says. “I want people to know that I have their best interest in mind and that I am willing to help them with anything to the best of my abilities. The most difficult part of being a leader is trying to make everyone happy. Since this is a nearly impossible feat due to everyone’s different views and opinions, you have to find a middle ground so that everyone feels their input is appreciated. My greatest reward has been the relationships I’ve made. From faculty, to elders, to students, I have been able to meet kind, wonderful people and form relationships that will last a lifetime.”

Visit K12 to request more information or learn more about the opportunities K12 provides, including its National Student Clubs.

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