The Hamm Leadership Program is one of the factors responsible for the fact that hundreds of students want to spend the summer in PEA. All this due to one couple’s evolution and the good work that was done and is being done to teach such an important topic in life and much more in a teenager. 

First of all, it is important to travel back in time to meet the person who makes all of this possible. Of course this program bears his last name. This refers to Charlie Hamm, an example of someone in the world with an amazing career and purpose — going back to his first Harkness table in 1951 when he was a school student here. Hamm fell in love with the leadership that he learned in Exeter, just as he said: “At Exeter, I learned to deeply respect the quotient of leadership.” 

As a result of his admiration and desire to open the doors of this to the students, he founded in 2009, together with his wife Irene, what this program would be, without thinking how important it would become. In 2011 they would finance the rest of the course to “begin a never ending process of thinking”, in his own words.

The program has been so successful that for many applicants, the first thing that interests them when picking their classes is Leadership, in both divisions. The program consists of two parts: the first one is Leadership and Society. In this type of class, the person can learn contexts and even a lot of discussion around the table and then all of this is transferred to an extensive one, which is where the student expands learning and turns it into practice. 

This extensive part is called Art + Science of Social Change and is led by Ben Cromwell, a teacher who is in his second year at PEA Summer giving these kind of classes. 

In one of last week’s classes, they were doing one of their projects called CapStone. The work is in groups and they basically have to create strategies and plans to attack the world’s problems just like Wage Inequality or Environmental Justice. Here they can put their effort, dedication and teaching to develop the essence of leadership and action. 

Also one of the things that this program teaches is the presentations of the best leaders, all of this with the objective by the end of the semester of learning “how groups function and how they can be better team members,” as Mr. Cromwell said. 

All life is about evolution, something that this course has undoubtedly shown. Mr. Cromwell referred to his perspective of the changes compared to last year of the following way: “The Upper School students and the Access students can learn each other; it’s more integrated and it is how the different ages cooperate. Everything is connected and generates the desire of the little ones to return in Upper School.” This program has the goal of creating a cycle of leaders who lead. It is a “practice activism class, where they can exploit their skills,” added the teacher who accompanied these students in their learning process. 

Students feel connected to the class and what it teaches, said Eloy Vazquez Zeller, a Dominican student. “I chose this class because I think that being a leader is such an amazing thing.,” he said. “When I saw this program, I saw an opportunity for being a better leader back home. I saw the opportunity to learn many tricks and skills. I do not regret choosing this program, I have gathered a greater understanding of leadership throughout the course. I want to keep learning.”

Another student, Beckett Lawrence-Apfelbaum, 15, agreed. “The leadership program,” he said, “has so far proved to be a very informative and valuable experience which I hope will give us the necessary skills to emerge as effective leaders when the time calls for it.”