Leadership and Service

9, 10, 11, 12

Students explore and demonstrate leadership and service qualities, reflect on the qualities of a leader and create and donate a children's book.

PrintOne 50-Minute Class Period, plus time to write and illustrate a book and read it to younger children

The learner will:

  • explore his or her capacity to lead and effect change.
  • design and donate a children’s book that educates other young people about their ability to make a difference.
  • Poster paper
  • Construction paper
  • Markers
  • stapler
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • leadership: the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal
  • service: to be of help or use to someone or a group of people; to be helpful or useful
  • obstacle: something that hinders or obstructs progress

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” 

Students will reflect on Leadership and Service by discussing the big and small ways that they can act as leaders in their community. Ask students to self-select what they believe are the most important leadership traits to them. Challenge them to develop one leadership trait in themselves.

Have them write a personal journal reflection about what trait they selected and how they plan to develop the trait.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Have students brainstorm the many reasons people may serve. Remind students that serving, or acts of philathropy, may include giving and sharing, volunteering, and actions for the common good. After they brainstorm some reasons, tell the students that these motivations may fall under these categories: doing good makes sense, it is God's will, it is good business, it's fun, it feels right, someone helped me before, and family tradition.

  2. Explain that sometimes a difficult issue (injustice), life experience (divorce), or destructive event (hurricane) may be a catalyst for inspiration and success. Lead a class discussion of examples of adversity that may bring out strength in people for helping others. Record issues/events on chart paper and discuss how and why people respond. For example, why do so many people volunteer and donate after a hurricane?

  3. Ask each student to choose an issue/event/topic from the chart paper and then spend five minutes writing independently about how people, including them, might respond to this adversity/need in a positive and constructive way.

  4. Move students into small groups of 3-4. Ask each small group to generate a list of service leaders, people whose service has impacted many (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, President John F. Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey, Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi) or few (teachers, coaches, family members, friends). Leaders include not only those whose work is well-known, but also those who have made a difference in other, less recognized ways. For example:

    • Leonardo DiCaprio started a foundation that “supports the efforts to secure a sustainable future for our planet and all of its inhabitants” (www.leonardodicaprio.org).
    • Shaquille O’Neal is fighting childhood obesity by working to help families and young people to get healthy through his family challenge.
  5. After small groups have listed leaders, ask students to discuss and list traits and values these leaders had to have to become leaders for their causes. For example, they may have been determined, brave, and angry. Tell student groups to expand on their list through discussion of how and why these individuals showed or learned these traits.

  6. Ask students from each small group to share with the class what qualities and traits they believe leaders share.

  7. Part of being a good leader is leading by example. Students will demonstrate leadership and service by creating a book to teach leadership and service to younger children.

  8. Have students work alone or in pairs to create a “vision” for their books by asking them what they hope a young person will get out of reading it. Do they hope they will improve their reading skills? Do they hope that person will feel inspired by its message? They may create books about how to complete a specific service project, such as creating a campaign for nonviolence, or write and illustrate a story about someone who does something ordinary or extraordinary to help their community.

  9. Have students make a cover with a title (Example: “We Can All Be Leaders”) and write a story and illustrate their book. This may be completed as homework or over several class periods, including time for peer editing and rewriting.

  10. (Optional) Add additional materials to the book to prolong its life and make it more appealing such as adding ribbon to bind the book or using a laminate.

  11. Set up a time to visit a school or community center to have students read their books to children.

  12. After the service: Reflect on the experience of reading to children. Discuss how the children reacted to the message and the reader. Discuss how students felt as they shared their vision with younger children.

  13. Students will donate their books to the school library or to a local community center to help educate others about the importance of leadership and service.

Cross Curriculum 

Youth reflect on what qualities of citizenship they want to share with younger children and write a children's book that tells a story and communicates the value of that citizenship quality. They read the book to younger children and donate the book to a library or community center where children will read and learn from their example.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Identify specific learning objectives from the academic core curriculum that are being applied in the service-learning project.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.