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The Comenius School for Creative Leadership: A Model for Training Tomorrow’s Leaders

By Sandy Woods and Sarah Godwin

From the outside, it seems like any other school. The sun has been up less than an hour, and the students have been up less than that. Cars circle a well-worn parking lot, dropping off students at the front door where teachers stand welcoming each child as they enter. A few students muster a “good morning” reply, but most are the typical sleepy-headed bunch—still waking up. At MorningStar’s day school, the Comenius School for Creative Leadership (CSCL), students start the morning, not in separate rooms, but gathered together in the main auditorium. Like most other schools, the morning begins with announcements: a bake sale on Thursday, a home basketball game on Friday night, the winter dance is in two weeks. Announcements end, but classes do not start yet. Before students head to their classrooms, we set time aside to seek the Lord. Overhead lights are turned off. The room is gently lit by rays of sunlight beaming through the glass doors. A student picks up a guitar and walks to the front of the room saying, “Everyone find a place to get still before the Lord this morning, and just listen to Him.” While there are principles and class structures that differentiate our school from other schools, this gathering at the start of each day is primarily what sets us apart. CSCL produces creative leaders. Teachers and administrators are there for support, but the students lead as we worship, pray, and grow in knowledge. Through experience, trial and error, they discover what type of leader God has created them to be. Morning Chapel At CSCL, we believe students can learn both how to hear from God for each other and how to lead others in receiving from the Holy Spirit. By setting aside the first 20 minutes of the morning with a student-led chapel time, we give students this opportunity to lead and set the atmosphere for the school day. We have no agenda for the students other than to be together before the Lord. After worship, we pray. Then the students head out to their morning classes, but we encourage them to continue in the presence of the Lord throughout the day. Any student from grade six through grade twelve can sign up to be the worship leader of a morning chapel and chapel times reflect the various personalities and gifts of these student leaders. We encourage students to step up and lead in any way they would like. Therefore, worship is different every morning. One time, a group of seventh-grade girls who practiced together after school, led the entire school in a worship dance. Another time, a group of sixth graders performed a puppet-show worship song. Most mornings our student worship leader has written original songs or composed an instrumental piece and plays for the other students. Sometimes worship is loud and other times it is soft. A teacher and student may even lead worship together. Either students are learning to step out of their comfort zones and bring their gift before the Lord, or they are learning to follow their peers into the presence of the Lord. Morning chapel becomes a safe place where they can learn to grow and lead others into God’s presence. We see this as our highest goal.

Many mornings a student may come forward expressing a prayer need and the students and teachers gather around that one to pray. Teachers and administrators build relationships with students so the youth feel comfortable sharing in front of each other.Academic subjects are important. We guide students through each grade, but each student and teacher knows that what we value most is building relationship with each other and cultivating the awareness of the presence of the Lord. At CSCL, students learn to hear from God while also learning their school subjects.