–by Mary Helen Darah
The Leadership Program for Girls has chosen St. Ursula Academy as the first high school in the nation to offer its leadership development program. “The distinction as the first National Girls’ Leadership School recognizes our commitment to intentional leadership development and rigorous scholarship standards for every young woman. It is an acknowledgment of the work we have done. We have been a frontrunner of this national movement. We are so honored to have been selected,” stated SUA President Mary Werner.
St. Ursula Academy was founded in 1854 and is the oldest, fully accredited, all-female, Catholic college preparatory school in Toledo. It serves girls grades six through twelve with an enrollment of 565 students and an 11:1 student-teacher ratio. SUA offers a full complement of honors and Advanced Placement classes, 13 varsity sports, and fine and performing arts programs.
“The selection process required looking at schools with a commitment to providing a culture that enhances leadership development,” stated Werner. “One of SUA’s highest strategic priorities is developing and empowering young women to lead in the future. Beginning in fall 2021, the world-class leadership programming for girls will be included in our core curriculum, launching exclusively at SUA. Students who complete the four-year program will earn a Certificate in Leadership that will be denoted on their transcript for the Class of 2025 and beyond. I am thrilled for our students to participate in this leading-edge program. I can’t wait to watch them learn, lead, and ultimately make a difference in the world.”
The Leadership Program for Girls was co-founded by Julie Carrier and Lisa Cenca. Carrier is recognized as the number one Coach for Young Women in the World by Thinkers 50 and Leading Global Coaches, while Cenca is a notable Harvard Graduate School of Education Leader and girls school founder who recently received Harvard University’s prestigious Phyllis Strimling Award for Advancing Women. The Program’s mission is to bring intentional, equitable, and evidence-based leadership learning to the academic school day. The four-year leadership model for high school girls, after years of pilot testing and development, combines a rigorous focus on academics with an equally important focus on leadership, self-leadership, and service.
The Leadership Program for Girls is also advised by a team of the world’s foremost thought leaders in this type of development from Harvard University, The Center on Leadership and Ethics at Duke University, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and other leading education experts across the country.
SUA faculty and staff will begin training this summer to teach the specialized program. St. Ursula Academy Principal Nichole Flores is excited about the next steps the school is taking to develop these skills in the students at SUA. “This programming is unlike anything else in the country. Our girls will build skills and practice those skills in hands-on projects that positively impact the world. We are preparing our students to meet the needs of a changing world. It is incredibly inspiring for our girls and our community.”
Werner is honored to provide the program for SUA students. She stated, “SUA has long been committed to the Ursuline core value of leadership. The founders of the Leadership Program for Girls recognized this active commitment to leader development, in addition to SUA’s demonstrated academic excellence. St. Ursula Academy is proud to be at the national forefront of leadership development for girls. Our students are the real beneficiaries of this commitment.”