There are countless opportunities for students to develop leadership skills at Trinity-Pawling. The community service program, clubs and activities, dormitories, and athletics are all venues for students to assume both official and unofficial positions of leadership. However, the most prominent and best loved leadership activity is the Senior Leadership Program. It is steeped in lore and tradition and is the highlight of many students' time at the school.
SENIOR LEADERSHIP PROGRAM
The senior leadership program begins each spring with the junior class. It stems from the school’s desire to select the very best junior candidates to serve as senior proctors in the dormitories and as elected senior prefects. To be considered for either a proctor or prefect position, students must write an essay as an application which will later serve as a “contract” by which they must abide in their leadership positions.
In addition to this essay, these boys, along with all other members of the junior class, participate in the senior leadership program. No members of the junior class are excluded from the program. Each member of the senior class is expected to lead by example; therefore no one is excluded from the benefits and goals of the following program. Many of the essays are then discussed in the context of the senior leadership program that takes the class off campus into an outdoor education experience.
Each spring the junior class participates in an outdoor education ropes course at the
When the boys return to school, the metaphor of the ropes course is continued in two senior leadership workshops with selected faculty. These two workshops include only those boys who have officially applied to be a proctor or a prefect. They are conducted by the Faculty Senior Leadership Committee. Role-playing, question and answer sessions, and frank discussions about the realities of a leadership position on the dorm are conducted two evenings during the spring term.
When the boys return in the fall, the Faculty Senior Leadership Committee conducts additional senior leadership workshops in which the ropes course metaphor is explored again. During these workshops the boys are divided into four groups: Proctors, Prefects, Senior Day Students, and non-proctors and post-graduates. The specific needs and interests of each group are addressed; at the same time, hazing, leadership, student safety, proper study hall decorum, substance abuse, etc. are also addressed. A concerted effort is made to remind all seniors that they are inherently the leaders of the school and are expected to lead by example.
- A leadership curriculum unique to Trinity-Pawling employed every Sunday and Monday during the spring term since 1990.
- An experiential-learning vehicle to teach leadership and foster camaraderie and trust among juniors at Trinity-Pawling and to prepare them for their senior year.
- Each activity serves to break down stereotypes among peer groups, de-emphasizes competition, and promotes an individual sense of competence and self-confidence.
- Activities focus on group initiatives, trust building, problem solving, decision-making, effective communication.
What is a Ropes Course?
Divided into two components, the ropes course consists of low rope elements (up to 5 feet off the ground) and high ropes elements (25 to 30 feet off the ground.) It is constructed of cables, logs, wood, trees and utility poles.
The program takes place on the campus of Indian Mountain School in Lakeville, Connecticut. The Trinity-Pawling Faculty Coordinators of the ropes course program are Ryan Henry and Josh Collins ’95.
(Excerpts taken from the article Boys on the Ropes, by Greg Carpiniello. Click here to read the full article.)
The Prefects are seniors who are chosen by the student body and faculty and are the formal student leaders of the School. They work closely with other students as well as with the faculty and administration. Each Prefect is also a chairman of a sub-committee of the Student-Faculty Senate.
Proctors at Trinity-Pawling School are senior leaders who reside the in various dormitories. Their purpose is to assist the dormitory masters in the day-to-day operation of a dormitory. While final evening check-ins, disciplinary matters, and more serious academic and social concerns are handled exclusively by adults, proctors have an important leadership role in Trinity-Pawling’s residential program. As mentioned previously, in order to be considered for either a proctor of prefect position, a student must complete an extensive questionnaire. The answers to these questions are reviewed by the nine faculty members that compose the Faculty Senior Leadership Committee. The recommendations of this committee are then presented in a meeting of all the dormitory masters and a final list of dormitory proctors is prepared. Performance during the ropes course, academic record, relationships with specific dorm parents, previous disciplinary records, and general deportment are all factors that may determine a student’s selection as a proctor. New proctors are then notified of their selection over the summer. There are a number of advantages and responsibilities to being selected as a proctor. Generally, proctors live with dormitory masters with whom they already have a well established bond and trusting relationship. Proctors tend to live in those rooms that are deemed “the best” on campus. These rooms tend to be more spacious. One coveted room in Owen House has a private senior bathroom for proctors. As proctors are among the school’s most successful students, they are already in the position to enjoy the rights and privileges associated with the effort system. Additionally, they are treated to nights out with the dormitory parents, greater freedom with regard to lights out, and greater autonomy in general. However, should a boy become mired in Group IV or V, spend a number of marking periods on academic probation, or violate a major school rule their status of proctor may be revoked by the dormitory master and the Dean of Residential Life. While dutifully serving in their role, proctors set the tone for evening study hall and the entire dormitory, offer extra-help to younger boys, oversee weekly dorm clean ups, conduct certain check-ins, and run the occasional errand. Additionally, they are one of the school’s primary insights into the health and safety of the other students and are expected to be frank and forthright about the conduct of their charges. Dormitory masters are also expected do a great deal of instruction in terms of the specific jobs of individual proctors because the role of a proctor varies dorm-to-dorm and class-to-class. Ultimately, two main messages are clear to the proctors at Trinity Pawling. They are to lead by example. And leadership is service to the community.
The Student Senate is a body of elected representatives. At the beginning of the year, returning senators run elections to pick additional members so that all constituencies are represented: each dorm, each day student class, etc. The senate meets bi-weekly to brainstorm ideas to improve student life on campus. They then act upon those ideas they can directly effect, and make recommendations regarding those ideas upon which the school administration would have to act.