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"Being with the other girls in my class has been the best experience. It feels like a sisterhood, and I know it's helped build my confidence. It makes Dexter Southfield stand out; you can't make these connections everywhere." 

–Alivia Kinney, alumna

Leading with Confidence

Serving with Compassion

At Dexter Southfield, we believe leadership and service are one in the same. To step into a role of leadership means to help your classmates and teammates succeed for the better of the community. At every grade level, there are mechanisms in place to provide students with opportunities to lead. There are assigned roles—classroom jobs in the lower school; team captains and student council in the middle and upper schools—as well as more subtle ways to lead within a group or class. Students first learn to recognize these opportunities and then step up when needed. The scenarios vary depending on the age and grade, but the message is clear from Pre-K through Class 12: be a good person, do your best, help others.

Learning to Lead in the Lower School

In the lower grades, teachers spend a lot of time helping students develop the skills needed to be a strong leader. These include managing yourself well in a group, conflict resolution, independence, problem solving, brainstorming, and accountability. These lessons take many forms—from the Kindergarten student tasked with bringing home a note for his parents to sign and returning it to his teacher, to Class 4 students working in small groups to complete an assignment. These are also ways to help students develop executive function skills and confidence. 

Leadership and Service in the Middle School

Leadership and service are major topics in the middle school. Advisory groups urge students to think critically about three elements: awareness of self; awareness of self and others; and leading others. Teachers also encourage self-advocacy at this age. 

Strong Leadership in the Upper School

Upper school students take their responsibilities as role models seriously and consider it an honor to provide the School community with strong leadership. Over the past few years, the Public Speaking program has expanded in order to provide upper school students with the opportunity to lead through their performances. Students are asked to write their own speeches and deliver them in front of their peers. Seniors present to the younger students, as well, and these presentations often speak to the importance of community, having a growth mindset, setting goals, responding to setbacks, service, character, or other virtues, based on the experience of the speaker. 


Dexter Southfield School • 617-522-5544 •

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20 Newton Street Brookline, Massachusetts 02445 Directions


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