Advanced Topics in Leadership

In the tenth grade, all students work with the principles of leadership through multi-faceted seminars they choose to take. Students work in small groups to research and refine solutions that respond to a specific need they have identified in the world. Our aim is that every student will be involved in activities that foster resilience, promote healthy risk-taking, nourish passions, nurture curiosity, and promote purposefulness. For the 2021-2022 school year we are pleased to offer the following advanced leadership seminar topics:
  • Improv through Listening and Empathy
  • Investing Challenge
  • Social Justice and Installation Art
  • What We Eat and Why It Matters 


Improv through Listening and Empathy
How might learning the skill of improv theater make us better listeners who are more empathetic and open to the ideas of others? Participants in this seminar will work towards the live performance of a longform improv set consisting of several completely improvised scenes based on a true monologue. Although audiences often reduce improv to a bunch of individuals being witty, this seminar will teach students to tap into their social, community-based instincts to listen, empathize, and cooperate with scene partners. We will learn to see improv as a collective work. Participants will play games and exercises to fine-tune their collaborative skills and enhance their self-confidence, as well as watch sets by experienced improvisers. At the final performance students would engage the audience in improv exercises and reflections on the craft they’ve learned. This seminar was developed and is taught by Upper School teacher Ethan Cooper. The seminar was so popular with the students who have taken it in the past that the Upper School will now have an improv club, for which Mr. Cooper will be the faculty sponsor.

Investing Challenge
Is it possible to be a socially responsible investor AND beat the market? This seminar will provide you with some financial tools, tips, and tricks to help you become both financially savvy as well as empowered. Utilizing the Wall Street Journal’s five part investing challenge framework, students will learn about markets and about risk and perseverance. Through scenarios and role play, students will develop an understanding of how to invest in the stock market, focusing on topics such as how to pick a stock and why diversification matters. The course will include investing basics and guest speakers from the financial industry, so it will be exciting and engaging for students no matter where you are on your financial decision-making ability journey. This seminar was developed by RPCS Leadership Institute Coordinator Sarah Pope. Mrs. Pope is offering this seminar for the first time this year after her interest in the stock market was re-ignited by her participation in the Power Lunch series in the spring of 2021.

Social Justice and Installation Art
How might we, as artists, create a piece of installation art that changes people’s minds and hearts about a specific social justice topic? Students will explore how art works to illuminate injustice and suggest a way forward; they will then investigate materials and ideas about the social justice issues that mean the most to them before forming groups. Each group will design and install a piece of art somewhere on campus that clearly and powerfully communicates a specific message about a social justice theme. A final reception will allow student-artists to welcome an audience to see and respond to their work. Whether you identify as an artist or not, you are welcome. This seminar was developed by Upper and Middle School Art teacher Megary Sigler. Ms. Sigler first taught this seminar in 2019 and students have requested that she bring back this seminar each year as a part of the leadership institute.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Ms. Sigler’s students created models of their installation art pieces and recorded a video explaining their work. You can view it here.

What We Eat and Why It Matters
How might we produce a sustainable version of your favorite meal? This seminar will culminate with a project in which students will study a single meal and learn about the impacts on people, the environment and/or climate from the farm to consumer. Students will then have two options for what to create: either a photography/marketing project creating information artwork to share their research on this topic or an entrepreneurship project where they will develop a business plan to sell their idea. In the course of creating those projects, we will explore sustainability in our food system including the impact of food on our environment and climate by investigating the journey our food takes from the farm to our plate. We will learn about the people who are behind our food system by visiting a local farm and restaurant to learn first-hand from entrepreneurs in Baltimore who work within our food system. And, perhaps most importantly, we will explore how these foods meet our own needs for nourishment and satisfaction. This seminar was developed by RPCS Garden Educator Cheryl Carmona. Ms. Carmona first taught this seminar in 2019 to two sections of upper school students, and has brought back the seminar each year due to popular demand.