Character & Leadership Education

Character & Leadership Education teaches boys to be actively involved in their world, to understand and engage with its challenges, and to take responsibility for their own actions and duties in a courageous, honorable manner. The Program affirms that essential aspects of one’s identity are inseparable from the communities and institutions of which one forms a part. We believe individuals lead when they support sustainable communities and help them move toward realizing their goals.

History & Goals

The St. Mark’s School of Texas Character & Leadership Education Program was founded during the 2005-2006 school year. Confident that the School was already doing an effective job developing leaders, the Program identified its main goals as supporting those successful practices already in place, making more intentional those practices whose benefits had not been fully realized, and developing new practices when appropriate. The result is a comprehensive approach to leadership and character development that contains curricular, cultural, and programmatic components. 

As a 1st–12th grade independent school, St. Mark’s realizes it is uniquely situated to provide a compelling and coherent message to students over the course of many years. Our goals include the creation of a conceptual framework and working vocabulary that allows students to define and defend the idea of a “good life” and analyze complex moral dilemmas. Just as important as these skills is helping students develop powers of discernment to decide on the best solutions to problems and then the courage to pursue the appropriate courses of action. We also seek to reach beyond the formal classroom setting to embrace the extra-curricular, realizing that the School’s Wilderness and Community Service Programs provide great opportunities for the development of leadership skills. 

The Program seeks to teach elements of both Leadership Studies (the study of ethics, leadership theory, biography, group psychology, etc.) and Leadership Development, providing as many opportunities as possible for students to lead in various contexts.

Curricular, Cultural, and Programmatic Components

List of 3 items.

  • Curricular Component

    A Leadership and Ethics Discussion Group—comprised of over 20 faculty and staff from Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools—meets regularly to share best practices and consider ways that leadership skills and opportunities can be seamlessly woven into course units, class discussions, and all variety of assessments. Central to this project has been the group’s attempt to establish a conceptual framework and common vocabulary. Our goal is to introduce both framework and vocabulary in an age-appropriate manner across divisions. A shared, online file has been created to facilitate the exchange of ideas and assignments.
  • Cultural Component

    Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the program is to cultivate interdivisional activity that provides students the opportunity to lead other students. We firmly believe that the best role models for our younger students are our older students. With this in mind, we are attempting to create many opportunities for meaningful interaction between grade levels. Presently, members of the Telos Society—the Upper School Leadership and Ethics Club—meet regularly with the fourth and sixth grades to discuss the benefits of community and service. In addition, we arrange and sponsor various forums for Upper Schoolers to give presentations to younger students. Recently, we have undertaken to create joint Upper School/Middle School Community Service Projects, and we hope to build on this practice in the future.
  • Programmatic Component

    The Character & Leadership Education Program has participated in and hosted a variety of events. In March of 2010, Gus Lee visited campus as the Program’s Visiting Scholar. Lee has served as a JAG officer, an Assistant DA, a Chief Operating Officer, a best-selling author, and a leadership consultant for corporations and educational institutions, including West Point. Lee serves as a consultant for the program and will play a key role in its future development. St. Mark’s alum Matt Silverman (Class of 1994), President of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Chris Lee (Class of 1996), manager of a New York equity firm, are past speakers at the Senior Leadership Dinner. In a powerful presentation that made use of his experience at St. Mark’s as well as his professional life, Matt Silverman talked about the challenges of forging a team out of a diverse group of people and the occasional need for intelligent risk-taking. Under the auspices of the Leadership and Ethics Program, approximately 200 members of the St. Mark’s community have participated in or attended the following programs during the course of the past year:
    • National Conference on Ethics in America, hosted by the United States Military Academy
    • Hart Global Leadership Forum, hosted by SMU
    • World Affairs Council of Dallas events (6-8 a year)
    • Close Up Trip to Washington DC and Gettysburg
    • St. Mark’s Summer Leadership Institute for rising 10-12th graders of area schools
    • Exploring Leadership Seminar for St. Mark’s Faculty and Staff
    • Character Development Conference, hosted by Greenhill School for Texas independent schools
    • Shelton Ethics Symposium, hosted by Shelton School for Texas independent schools
    • Senior Leadership Dinner

Character & Leadership Program Leaders

List of 4 members.

  • John Ashton 

    Associate Headmaster
    (214) 346-8122
    Indiana University - Bloomington - B.S.
    Central Washington University - M.A.
  • John Perryman 

    Thomas S. Adams Master Teaching Chair
    (214) 346-8315
    Williams College - B.A.
    University of Texas at Dallas - M.A.
    University of Texas at Dallas - Ph.D.
  • Martin Stegemoeller 

    Malcom K. and Minda Brachman Master Teaching Chair
    (214) 346-8233
    Northwestern University - B.A
    Vanderbilt University - M.A.
    Vanderbilt University - Ph.D.
  • Amy Stanbury 

    Math Dept.; Asst. Dir. Character & Leadership Program; Free The Children Co-Sponsor
    (214) 346-8161
    Duke University - B.A.

St. Mark's School of Texas

10600 Preston Road
Dallas, Texas 75230


About Us

St. Mark’s School of Texas is a private, nonsectarian college-preparatory boys’ day school for students in grades 1 through 12, located in Dallas, Texas. St. Mark’s aims to prepare young men to assume leadership and responsibility in a competitive and changing world.