They May Be Small, But They are Mighty

Spending lunchtime and recess once a week to sit in the Head of Lower School's office probably doesn't seem like an activity most fourth and fifth graders would be excited to do. But for the Lower School Student Council members, sacrificing their free time shows their commitment to and belief in making a difference in the Lower School and being a positive influence on their peers.

Each student council member earned his or her seat through an election process involving writing a one page statement outlining why he or she would be an asset to student council and delivering it to the class. Each fourth and fifth grade class elect two representatives, and Dr. Lightman selects two additional students from each grade level.

The Lower School Student Council Mission Statement reads:

As school leaders, Student Council representatives are expected to participate in activities and events designed to strengthen the Lower School community and to model how to be our best selves and do our best work.

"The student council and I talk about what they can do to help strengthen the Lower School community and the Shipley community as a whole," explains Dr. Tim Lightman, Head of Lower School. "That's the framework to get their ideas going about what they're interested in doing."

Most recently, the student council studied Shipley’s after-school programs, called Encore Clubs, to determine if the offerings were meeting the interests of the Lower School student body.

“Student council developed and conducted surveys in each classroom about what the favorite Encore Clubs were, what kind of clubs students like, what don't they like, what are the best days for Encore Clubs, what some ideas are for new Encore Clubs, and so on,” said Lightman.

After gathering and analyzing the data, the council delivered a formal presentation to Paula Farrell, who coordinates after-school programs. Shipley now offers an advanced cooking Encore Club and is developing new clubs as a direct result of the student council’s work.

Aside from seeing the sense of accomplishment and pride the students feel, Lightman also sees the importance of teaching leadership skills and building a strong foundation in students from an early age.

“They're really enthusiastic,” explains Lightman. “They love the field trips to various offices on campus to learn more about how the School operates. They love the opportunities to speak publicly during admissions events or at Middle and Upper school assemblies. They really like those kinds of leadership opportunities and, most importantly, they hold themselves accountable to the work.”

The Lower School Student Council experience inspires the confidence to explore in its members and allows them to create opportunities to better the Shipley community. The skills each student learns in this experience will benefit them as they move through school, college, and into adulthood.


The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.