Leadership Trainer Steve Saunderson works with Bolles fifth-graders


Mentor and leadership trainer Steve Saunderson traveled to the Bolles Lower School Ponte Vedra Beach Campus on Sept. 15 to teach fifth graders important lessons about sportsmanship and teamwork, with an emphasis on assuming positive intent and seeking to understand.

Saunderson has worked for many corporations, including Nike and now Under Armour, running leadership training for large teams of more than 100 people.

Ponte Vedra Beach Campus art teacher Kimberly Thomas arranged his visit to help the grade five students connect as classmates. She assisted Saunderson in facilitating a lively group activity as well as breakout sessions with each class.

To kick off the morning, the pair took the students out to the basketball courts for a teambuilding exercise using the game rock, paper, scissors. The fifth graders were separated into their respective classes, matching up for a series of one-on-one competitions. The loser of each round then joined the line of their opponent’s team, with the purpose of learning how to support others even when it feels difficult to do so. 

When some students grew frustrated with losing, Saunderson and Thomas stopped the exercise to explain how to choose positivity in seemingly negative situations and how that choice can carry through their entire day. Thomas also explained the danger of assumptions through a dialogue that demonstrated how her students felt like they knew her but weren’t aware of many facets of her life outside of school. 

After the rock, paper, scissors activity, Saunderson met with each fifth-grade class individually for small-group sessions, which provided further opportunities to mentor and train students on how to support each other and work as a team.