In April, we invited teachers across the country to nominate students in grades 6–12 for one of three scholarships to a one-week Great Books Summer Program at Stanford University, Northwestern University, and Amherst College. The response was amazing! We were flooded with more than 100 essays on how the skills students practice in Great Books discussions can make them more effective leaders.

Meet the Winners!


Grade 9
Oakland, CA
Attending the Great Book Summer Program at Amherst College

I am generally a very introverted person. I don’t really like to talk to new people or take the lead in situations. However, Great Books discussions have made me speak up more and realize that my opinions are valid. In Great Books discussions, I have realized that sharing my opinions are valuable not only for me, but others, too. Sharing my thoughts helps me learn to lead, be more comfortable and let others learn about me. In Great Books, I feel compelled to contribute to the conversations because of the topics that interest me. The books we read have very unique topics and stories, which makes all the students think more deeply and want to talk about them.


Grade 9
Vancouver, WA
Attending the Great Books Summer Program at Stanford University

In book discussions, everyone has a chance to share their opinion. Everyone can be heard. And everyone can listen. Yes, leaders need to share ideas. But more importantly, leaders need to listen. In order to refine their own opinions, they need to consider the perspective of others.


Grade 10
Evans, GA
Attending the Great Books Summer Program at Northwestern University

The skills I have acquired through participating in Great Books discussions are preparing me for a leadership role in my future. Collaborating with others allows me to listen to new ideas and grow from understanding and respecting differences. Differences are highly valued and celebrated. As a STEM Club volunteer in my former elementary school, I draw from my knowledge to show the next generation skills they will need to succeed. We question, infer, and revise ideas as we complete experiments.

Want to learn more about how to bring discussion, student leadership, critical thinking and respect to your school or community?
Contact us today at or 800-222-5870.