Jepson-Athens Leadership Academy

Summer program introduces high school students from Greece to leadership studies concepts and the river city

July 5, 2011

Touring the state capitol, getting a taste of college life and learning about leadership studies was all in a week’s work for a group of high school students from Athens, Greece. 

The group was on campus June 25 through July 1 for the third annual Jepson-Athens Leadership Academy. The summer program is the result of a partnership formed between the Jepson School of Leadership Studies and the American Community School in Athens. The two schools share a similar mission of educating students for and about leadership and teaching civic responsibility.

“Without exception all of the students who participate in this program are incredibly engaged and involved in the life of our school when they return,” said Steven Medeiros, director of academics at the Athens school. “This experience gives them a real shot of faith in their intellectual capabilities. It’s a very positive experience for them.”

As part of the classroom experience, students learned about the nature and philosophical underpinnings of leadership studies and read from leadership studies professor J. Thomas Wren’s text “The Leaders Companion.” Wren co-taught the students with Medeiros and Ellen Vriniotis, a teacher at the Athens school.

Ethicist and leadership studies professor Terry L. Price led a discussion about the complexity of moral reasoning and human capacity to justify wrongdoing, especially in leadership positions.

The program also included a tour of Monticello and several sites in Richmond. Naturalist Ralph White, James River Park manager, led a day-long tour of the river, Richmond historian Mark Greenough led a tour of the state capitol, and Tom Kapsidelis, deputy news editor for breaking news at the Richmond-Times Dispatch, showed students around the newsroom.

In addition, they visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and had meals in Carytown and Shockoe Bottom.

On campus students met with staff from the Office of International Education and staff from the Office of Admission.

“This is one of the ways the Jepson School is able to make a difference,” Wren said of the program. “When high school students come in and learn about leadership and then go out in the community and hear about it from community leaders like Ralph White, it’s a very positive thing. It really encapsulates what the Jepson School tries to do with our own students.”

In the past, the summer program has included sending a Jepson School student to Athens to complete an internship. The partnership may also eventually include sending Jepson faculty members to teach in Greece.