Head of School Mark Anderson’s dedication to leadership extends into the classroom, with all
Upper School students afforded the opportunity to participate in the elective The Art of Leadership and Public Speaking, which he routinely teaches. An integral part of the class involves inviting guest speakers to address the class, allowing them to learn from their various journeys and the wisdom and insights gained from them.
Before the holiday break Delaware’s Congresswoman Lisa Blunt-Rochester spoke with the students. “While there were many highlights from Representative Blunt-Rochester’s talk,” shared Anderson, “her recitation from memory of a poem that she wrote as a child was very impressive. The theme that ‘what you love to do is what is going to shape who you are’ was an important message for our students to consider.”
Blunt-Rochester went on to share that during one phase of her adult life she realized that she truly was not living a life of joy. She took action by moving to China, writing a book, and eventually getting remarried. She encouraged the students to do things, even if it makes them afraid; and she reminded them that when life is hard, they need to remember that someone else’s life is even harder.
Elected as a Democrat from Delaware’s at-large congressional district in 2016, Blunt-Rochester won the general election and was sworn in on January 3, 2017. In doing so, she became the first African American to represent Delaware in Congress.
Alle Prezioso '20 admits to following Blunt-Rochester’s career in Delaware politics and finding it inspirational. Alle elaborated: “I have always loved Congresswoman Blunt-Rochester, and I was so thrilled to personally meet her and see firsthand just how genuine and encouraging she is. It made me happy to learn that the woman I watch and admire on television is just as intelligent and kind in person as I hoped she would be. I have had a strong interest in social justice and the law for a few years, and having this chance to meet the Congresswoman and hear her story has motivated me even more to work harder, to be better, and to follow my passion.”
The last guest speaker of this term for Anderson’s class was Delaware Governor John Carney. Xander Bauguess '21 enjoyed the governor’s message that everyone has a selfless duty to take care of those who are less fortunate, and that people should work to find ways to improve their community and the lives of people around them. “Governor Carney made me realize how fortunate we are to be able to attend a school like Sanford. When he spoke about political groups of all parties finding ways to work together, it made me think that in any aspect of life, when we can all come together, more work will be done and the best outcomes will be achieved. From a leadership viewpoint, it was interesting to consider that leaders must make the best possible decisions, which is likely going to leave some people dissatisfied,” said Xander.
John Carney, a Democrat, has served as Governor of Delaware since January 2017. He has a long history of serving the state, including from 2011–2017 as Delaware’s Congressman in the House of Representatives, the position now held by Blunt-Rochester. Carney was also the state’s Lt. Governor from 2001-2009. Prior to that, he was Delaware’s Secretary of Finance.
Xander continued: “I have enjoyed the array of guests that Mr. Anderson arranged to visit our class. Every one of them brought different ideas and messages, with several touching directly on what I want to do with my life. The head of the Beau Biden Foundation, Patty Dailey Lewis, sticks in my mind as the most memorable speaker. The stories of her life’s work and the hard decisions she must make regarding crimes with children, sexual abuse, and harassment were compelling. She, too, mentioned the importance of having to make the right decision at the right time.”
Anderson’s class has learned from a number of excellent guest speakers this term, including a variety of alumni, trustees, parents, grandparents, former faculty, and local and state dignitaries. Topics have included: business ownership, government, philanthropy, education, and the arts. While the students have been enlightened by the speakers and their expertise, all of the guests have shared the common desire to share their passion and leadership skills with those of the next generation.
One of Anderson’s stated goals for this class is to bring in a diverse group of speakers with the hope that each student will find at least one that really resonates with them. It appears that Anderson has achieved his goal. Alle explained: “This class has given me the chance to meet and learn from incredible people and get advice I would not have had otherwise. Having this opportunity is just another reason I love being a student at Sanford.”
Perhaps an unintended consequence of the course is the relationship that Anderson has been able to forge with his students and its importance to them. Xander summarized: “It is absolutely amazing to realize that I am taking a class taught by the head of my school. It is very special that Mr. Anderson creates this opportunity for us and allows us to make special bonds with him and each other.”