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I find conducting interviews a delight.
It’s a privilege to share the interests and aspirations of those passionate about their work. This week I was interviewing students presenting themselves for the key positions within the school’s senior prefect team – and what an inspiring experience it was!
Roedean’s process of appointing the eight senior prefects for the year is commendably democratic. The whole school votes for the students they believe will best represent them out of the entire Year 12 class. New girls and old, loud and quiet, have an equal opportunity to become one of the eight girls who form the leadership team for the year.
Having been nominated by their peers, each student writes a letter of application and presents themselves for an interview with a senior manager and me. This year, as always, was an interesting session. The girls presented themselves clearly, speaking with deep knowledge about their school and demonstrating a sincere commitment to see it move forward.
Past experience of involvement in school life is of great benefit in the interview. The struggle to get girls to attend house play rehearsals, understand the role within the orchestra, or work to a deadline when contributing to the school newspaper were all drawn on. The skills acquired in such positions – leadership, persuasion, punctuality, reliability - are all transferable to the roles for which the girls were applying.
The girls recognised that joining the senior team could be potentially divisive within their own peer group. They spoke with self confidence, however, about how the girls respect the role of student leaders and look to them to speak on their behalf. Running a school, said one, was like running a company: the workers like to complain about management, but in truth they trust them to make tough decisions which are in everyone’s best interest.
The posts will be allocated this coming week and I am confident that, once again, the team that the students have nominated will fulfil their duties with dedication and professionalism.
I will, however, suggest each of them to read a copy of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In (2013) before they take up office. Sheryl speaks here about the challenges of being a female leader in an environment in which women still make up a small proportion of the top executives. Her advice, which I will encourage my students to imitate, is: be bold, trust in yourself and be ready to lean in at each meeting to ensure your views are heard.
I know that in order to continue to grow and challenge myself, I have to believe in my own abilities. I still face situations that I fear are beyond my capabilities. I still have days when I feel like a fraud... But now I know how to take a deep breath and keep my hand up. I have learned to sit at the table.
By Frances King, Headmistress at Monday, 22 April 2013
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