BackSponsored Listings » Education » Fostering Empathetic Leadership from a Young Age at Anne Hill

Fostering Empathetic Leadership from a Young Age at Anne Hill

“Leadership doesn’t mean you will grow up to become a Prime Minister”, Anne Hill says of students at the namesake International school she founded in District 2. 

“It means being able to differentiate between right and wrong…being a leader can start as simple as being a leader for yourself,” adds Head of Primary School Sandy Lim. 

When most people think about student leadership, they imagine teenagers taking charge on the sports field or in extracurricular clubs. But leadership can be developed and displayed much earlier through a variety of activities and values. Saigoneer visited the newly opened primary campus of Anne Hill International (AHI) Preschool and Primary School to learn more about how these skills can be instilled from as young as eighteen months old as part of the school’s educational philosophy.

Leadership Inside and Outside of the Classroom

“Even as adults, we are happy when we are able to take control of a situation,” Ms. Lim says regarding the importance of being a leader of one’s self. AHI allows for such opportunities in formal ways, such as assigning students daily roles including recording air pollution readings or taking attendance. In later years, the students will serve as school ambassadors and prefects. Students are also expected to take responsibility for themselves in informal situations, such as when they serve themselves and others during lunchtime.

AHI is unique in offering students a full hour for their lunch break, which means they have time to play after they eat. This coincides with Ms. Hill’s belief that kids “need to enjoy their childhood.” And beyond simply having fun, the extended lunch hour allows them to practice making decisions for themselves while also learning how to interact respectfully with their peers. Such freedom gives them a chance “to be better human beings, to be street smart,” Ms. Hill adds.

During the break, one of the students’ favorite things to do is to play in the garden, rock-wall, and trampoline. Getting their hands dirty, feeling, tasting, and touching are all vital for growing up strong and healthy. This means that they don’t have to rely on a tablet or computer to have fun, but rather can independently find satisfaction in their surroundings. Ms. Hill has found that parents are especially appreciative of the school’s emphasis on imagination and unplugged activities.

Empathy via Diversity

The first step in developing empathy is learning to put oneself in another’s shoes. AHI has students from 46 different countries, and different aspects of each unique culture are celebrated. Festivals such as Diwali, Halloween, Easter, Hanukkah, Tết and the Mid-Autumn Festival are all observed with traditional attire, food, dancing, and stories. The activities allow students to better understand their friends and family while gaining awareness of the size of the world.

Holidays are not the only time students encounter other cultures. The daily lunch menu, for example, carefully balances dishes from a variety of cuisines so students come to understand the many different foods people eat every day around the globe. Similarly, annual field trips to places like a health clinic, a dentist and a cultural theme parks to expose them to the larger world around them and the experiences and viewpoints of others.

The Importance of Feeling Special

“They are loved and cared for…every child is special when they are with us,” Ms. Hill says to reassure parents who trust the school with their precious kids each day. The first to arrive and the last to leave campus each day, Ms. Hill is waiting at the front gate to greet them. One of the teachers’ priorities is to make sure that the children know they are unique and important individuals.

At the end of each key stage level, students enjoy, students enjoy a graduation ceremony where they receive certificates, teddy bears, and a photo. The certificates aren’t important, Ms. Hill stresses, but the opportunity to feel loved is needed to make them happy and confident. This confidence, an essential requirement for leadership, is on full display when anyone comes to the school to take photos. The students eagerly pose and make faces because they are comfortable in themselves and their surroundings.

On the academic side, a customized curriculum exemplifies AHI’s individuality. Given the great number of countries the students come from, differences in language levels abound, and rather than blending them all together for Mandarin classes, for example, extra teachers are hired so smaller groups can be properly attended to. “We see what is the need of the learners and work to meet their needs,” Ms. Lim notes. 

Anne Hill International adheres to four core values: integrity, empathy, humility, and respect, which translate into expectations that students are kind, honest, respectful, and humble. It’s no coincidence that these are all traits needed for empathetic leadership. And they aren’t established nor perfected overnight. Rather, Ms. Hill says, “this journey begins at birth and ends at the fulfillment of life.”

Anne Hill's Facebook

+84 906 84 69 39

Anne Hill International School | 31-33 Giang Van Minh, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City