Planting Seeds

Jan Baldwin Conference, Leadership Lab, Leadership Programs, Pedagogy Of Leadership®

By Jan Baldwin, LL ‘14, gcLi Scholar ‘21, Middle School Dean of Students and Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department, Stuart Country Day School (NJ)

There is a Proverb that I admire: ”The one who plants trees, knowing that they will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.” My week as a Scholar at gcLi this summer was an incredible experience. As the faculty gathered and got to know each other, we discovered that we all had a shared vision.  There was a supreme commonality to this group that resonated with all of us. We wanted to plant the seeds for these educators to take to their institutions in order to plant the trees for their students in leadership.

We anticipated the extreme exhaustion that these teachers were feeling from a pandemic school year and were able to continually adjust our schedules without sacrificing essential learning. Our participants “stormed and normed” in order for the bonding and learning to occur in each Lab group. They all discovered connection, collaboration and compassion as they moved throughout this leadership journey.

I admired the faculty’s communication with participants and Lab groups and watched as they facilitated group decision making, developed new protocols for listening and sharing, and coached attendees to follow their insights for initiatives at their own institutions. It was “magic.”

Jeremy Lacasse was my faculty mentor and our group created a final skit that showed how the group was able to recover from their death in the arctic with a phoenix rising. This simple image showed how they were all able to recover and grow as a group and individually and to know how their leadership contributions will invigorate and inspire their students next year.  I was so happy to help facilitate this amazing Lab group. 

Our keynote speaker Dr. Stuart Ablon gave all of us a new way to approach problem-solving with carefully crafted skills for collaboration. Jim Carney shared his wisdom and counsel at our faculty session as we looked at the week in review. He also encouraged the participants at our final dinner. We must thank Amanda again for her superb expertise with every detail of hospitality.

The participants arrived tired but eager and left with hope and re-energized with a new vision.  At gcLi, we planted the seeds that inspired educators to plant the trees for their students to sit under. 

I am filled with gratitude for this joy-filled opportunity to learn from the very best and share my vision as well.


Thank you all. I miss everyone already.


Ms. Baldwin is the Dean of Students in the Middle School at Stuart Country Day School and Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department. She has studied leadership at NAIS and the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute. Ms. Baldwin has presented workshops in leadership and public speaking at NJAIS and #Leadlikeagirl. She is a faculty member for the Center for Girls Leadership at Stuart. Ms. Baldwin holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Theatre from Skidmore College and a Master’s of Arts in Education from LaSalle University.