Meet Sarah DeCamps, Incoming Director of the Institute For Leadership & Purpose

Please join us in welcoming teacher, coach, and advisor Sarah DeCamps to the Calvert community! This fall, Sarah will join the Calvert School team as the new director of the Institute For Leadership & Purpose. We recently caught up with Sarah to learn more about her teaching style, leadership philosophy, and goals for the ILP.
Sarah comes to Calvert after 11 years at Landon School, an all-boys independent school in Bethesda, Maryland, where she taught middle school Spanish and World History, coached middle school sports, and served as an advisor for the student council.
 
Notably, Sarah also pioneered the school’s global education program.
 
“Leadership is a tricky formula, but the best leaders always have emotional intelligence, environmental consciousness, self-awareness, and a dash of confidence,” Sarah said. “I really believe all kids can be creative, natural-born leaders. They don’t always think so, but they can.”
 
The global education program has given boys and girls from Landon and Holton-Arms the opportunity to travel to locations like Belize and Costa Rica for educational and cultural immersion trips. Led by Sarah in conjunction with the World Leadership School, these travels expose the children to new environments and ways of life, encouraging them to become responsible global citizens.
 
“Sometimes they find themselves wanting to blend in. They seem to quickly learn how to be part of a pack,” she continued. “Or rather, by Middle School, they un-learn how to naturally step into leadership roles. Perhaps our grown-up society occasionally pushes them to conform and they overthink what it means to be a purpose-driven leader.”
 
Sarah, who is fluent in Spanish, has also cultivated a decades-long relationship with Our Little Roses, a nonprofit school and home for at-risk girls in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. She first traveled there as a middle school student and has regularly returned independently and with other volunteers to support the organization. Alongside a group of students, she has even established her own non-profit to further support Our Little Roses.
 
Since 2013, Sarah has served as an instructor and trip leader for the World Leadership School (WLS), an internationally recognized resource for purpose learning and leadership programming. In recent years, Calvert has repeatedly partnered with the World Leadership School to provide enhanced teacher fellowship, community events, and new opportunities for the ILP.
 
In 2016, WLS conducted project-based professional development for Calvert teachers, and in 2019 the WLS led two days of events and training for nearby independent schools. In June 2018, a small group of students and faculty traveled to Costa Rica with WLS. Later, in October 2019, Seventh and Eighth Graders enjoyed an engaging trip to New Mexico.
 
Together with community outreach programs, co-curricular opportunities, and local partnerships, these ILP offerings transcend classroom barriers to nurture confident students with well-rounded leadership skills.
 
“One of the things that drew me to the ILP is that almost every school says it promotes youth leadership, but what the ILP is doing seems very tangible and real. Kids are learning who they want to be and finding ways to get involved in their community from right inside the classroom.  The Calvert approach is not just through external programming,” Sarah said. “Through the ILP, Calvert is really making purpose-driven leadership a part of their entire landscape.”
 
Sarah, who holds a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University, strongly believes in creating new leadership opportunities for all children, and her extensive experience with middle school students will aid the School in boosting and reinvigorating its purpose-driven programming.
 
“I really love that Calvert embraces students for who they are, helps them reflect on who they want to be, and then tries to support them in transforming that interest into action,” she said.
 
Prior to her work with Landon and WLS, Sarah earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from Hollins University in Virginia. She is an alumna of Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia, has extensive wilderness and first-aid training, and advocates for outdoor education.
 
“My experience has shown me that kids all want opportunities to express themselves, in whatever form speaks to them,” she said. “That might be in the classroom, on the sports field, on a stage, behind the curtain, with a paintbrush, holding an instrument, as part of a club or affinity group, or even taking action in their own community.”
 
“They want to test out their own voices and amplify the voices of their friends,” she continued. “They want to advocate for good in the things they see around them. But, because we are all living in a stressful world, they sometimes find themselves a little afraid to step up and let the things that give them purpose really shine through.”
 
We look forward to having Sarah on campus soon and know she will make a great addition to the Calvert School team!
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Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.

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