Leadership Education

Combining Tradition and Innovation

Culver students explore principles of self-awareness, collaboration and understanding leadership for change through the Leadership Education Curriculum. They are challenged to understand the power of building teams to accomplish goals and reflect on their roles as members and leaders within those teams.

Leadership Education Curriculum

Culver Academies is unique among schools across the nation in its Leadership Education Curriculum – a core academic subject that requires rigorous effort and provides hands-on leadership experience. The concepts of leadership taught in these courses resonate across the rest of Culver’s academics and connect integrated programs across campus. 

  • A comprehensive 4-year curriculum includes Living, Learning, and Leading; Thinking and Teaming; Ethics; and Service Leadership Practicum. Ambitious students also have the option to earn Honors in Leadership.
  • Students examine character strengths, cultivate growth mindset, develop cultural competency, practice teamwork, analyze decision-making, consider ethical frameworks, model responsible citizenship, and perform practical service learning.
  • Traditional values are combined with innovative learning strategies to encourage student leaders who are connected to the past and prepared for the future. Classes engage in student-centered harkness discussions on Aristotelian virtues. Community service projects are constructed using the user-centered design thinking process favored by leading technology companies. Time-tested meets cutting-edge.
  • The curriculum is based on contemporary research and seeks to equip students with essential core concepts and the critical-thinking skills necessary to apply those concepts to their own experience.

Classroom learning serves as one of the many avenues that enables leadership learning for a focused and integrated educational experience.

The Leadership Department consists of diverse, dedicated faculty passionate about modeling, inspiring, challenging, enabling, and encouraging all students to develop as leaders, using an academically rigorous curriculum designed to empower students with essential 21st century leadership skills. Students are challenged to reflect and apply these concepts to themselves and their numerous teams (in the classroom, in the CGA Prefect System or the CMA Leadership System, in Athletics, in Clubs, in Global Studies, Entrepreneurship, Sustainability and more) throughout their time at Culver. 


Culver believes in the importance of mastery—mastery of knowledge and of fundamental learning skills. Achieving such mastery involves hard work, and Culver makes no apology for demanding rigorous effort from its students. That students work hard reflects the conviction of the faculty that superficiality of learning must be avoided and that added breadth and depth of knowledge is achieved only when students expend great effort to approach the limits of their capabilities.

According to Peterson and Seligman in their work Character Strengths and Virtues, a leader is defined as, “one who is a member of a team who enables the team to accomplish its goal while maintaining good relationships with team members.” While this definition is relatively simple to understand, it is challenging to live out, minute by minute, in our community.  As team members first and foremost, Culver students are expected to work well with others, and to demonstrate commitment, respect, and support of their teammates.  When leadership needs arise, they have the opportunity to step up and help the team move forward towards its goal.

Living, Learning and Leading - Effective leadership starts with understanding the self. This introduction to leadership course provides freshmen with the tools they need to make better decisions and be more successful as students and leaders. Students are introduced to powerful concepts of growth mindset, character strengths, wellness, learning, memory, and cultural competency, all supported by academic-level research and aligned with Culver’s commitment to virtuous decision-making and effective leadership.  They are also given carefully-designed, supported opportunities to develop leadership skills and put their new understanding to practical use.

Thinking and Teaming - In this one-term course, sophomores build on the individual strengths and leadership qualities developed during their freshman year and hone their communication and feedback skills through mission-focused projects that require engagement with their community and coordination within their team. Students employ the industry-standard design thinking process as a vehicle to understand empathy, framing, and creative problem solving. Completing TNT helps students understand the importance of diverse perspectives and framing issues so they can engage with increasingly complex concepts during their junior year.

Ethics and the Cultivation of Character – Junior students will cultivate a process for moral reasoning and sound decision-making through time-tested ethical frameworks partnered with contemporary research in the social sciences. Through case studies, literature and film, design projects, collaboration, discussion, and writing across genres, students practice skills in the classroom laboratory to develop the capacity to act ethically and lead effectively in diverse and authentic situations that reflect an increasingly complex, chaotic, and exciting world.

Service Leadership Practicum – Students spend their senior year responding to the question, “How can we make a difference in the world?” By integrating conceptual learning and leadership experience at Culver Academies, students take an active leadership role in collaborating with the community towards a shared vision.  Through this yearlong capstone experience, students engage in a self-designed community-based project.  Ultimately, they are challenged to present a creative response to a social need, actively contributing to a better world.    

Seniors interested in deeper research into leadership for social change can apply for acceptance into the Honors in Leadership Seminar. The Honors in Leadership Seminar enables students to exponentially expand their understanding of ethical leadership, leadership theories, and practical application.  Through engagement in an Action Research project on an issue of their choice, students take a multidisciplinary approach to investigating and developing projects to support social transformation. Action Research is committed to both the collection and analysis of data about a community and the use of those data to create innovative designs and initiate leadership action that promotes change, giving ambitious students a unique opportunity to prepare for high-level leadership at the academic and professional level.

An integrated, focused, campus-wide effort. Since educating students for leadership is the first element of the Culver Mission, every Culver faculty member is committed to supporting this endeavor as “lab managers” in their respective disciplines, as coaches on the athletic field, as sponsors of extracurricular clubs, and as mentors supporting capstone Service Leadership Practicum site.