Leadership in the Lower School

We know that every girl can lead. That's why our girls learn to see themselves as leaders from the first day of PreK — and why we created our Living Leadership in the Lower School program.


Developed by Agnes Irwin faculty, our Center for the Advancement of Girls, and Bryn Mawr College researchers, Living Leadership in the Lower School helps our youngest girls learn to see themselves as leaders. The program, which is integrated at every grade level, gives girls a broad understanding of who a leader is and what a leader does, creating a strong sense of leadership self-efficacy in lower school girls.

The Agnes Irwin Leadership Toolkit© is a key part of Living Leadership in the Lower School. The toolkit is a physical toolbox that focuses on nine key attributes of a 21st-century leader, making those abstract concepts more tangible for young learners.

The toolkit is a physical toolbox, filled with laminated definition cards, examples, and physical objects related to the leadership attributes. Resilience, for example, is defined as, “When things don’t go my way, I bounce back” and is represented by a bouncy ball.

“Results indicate … that the program itself helped to redefine leadership for the girls and led them to identify themselves as leaders in more complex and nuanced ways."
The Journal of Research in Childhood Education, on Agnes Irwin's L3 program

Inside the Program

An article about Agnes Irwin's Living Leadership in the Lower School program was featured in NAIS's Independent School Magazine. 

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The early and consistent cultivation of a girl’s leadership identity manifests itself in the knowledge that she not only belongs at the table, but brings her full voice there, too.

Alison Monzo,
Director of Programs, Center for the Advancement of Girls

Leadership identity, noun. The ability to see oneself as a leader.


By the age of 6, girls are less likely than boys to think they can be brilliant — and for many, those biases continue into adolescence, sapping their confidence in their leadership potential.

To view herself as a leader, a girl first must feel that she is capable of leadership — which is why we focus on developing leadership identity in our youngest students.


The research behind Living Leadership in the Lower School was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Research in Childhood Education.

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