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‘Make Yourself Useful’: Alumni Parent & Trustee Inspires CHC Students to Lead 
Mrs. Alexandra Oglesby, Director of Communications

This month, alumni parent Mr. Scott Duncan captivated the attention of Cape Henry Collegiate’s Ninth and Tenth Grade students with his leadership lessons. 

“He’s such a fun, dynamic speaker,” said Upper School English teacher Mrs. Kathleen Sharp, who invited Mr. Duncan as part of the Upper School Common Experience curriculum, which focuses on monthly lessons that help CHC graduates go into the world as citizens of character. 

"He was very engaging and there was another level of connecting with us,” said sophomore Zoë Smith. “I thought his advice about what it takes to be a leader was valuable.”

Mr. Duncan knows what he’s talking about when it comes to leadership. He serves as Vice President of Cape Henry Collegiate’s Board of Trustees and chaired the boards of WHRO Public Media and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. As Senior Vice President and General Manager at Capital Group Companies before his retirement in 2018, Duncan led a company-wide leadership development initiative. 

“We knew that we needed to be more intentional about cultivating leadership than we had in the past,” Mr. Duncan said. “As it took hold, I ended up spending close to half my time on this effort and I trained leaders on every continent over a period of 17 years.”

Still, Mr. Duncan’s message to students emphasized they don’t need a title to assume leadership.

“He told us we can be leaders in whatever context we find ourselves,” said Mrs. Sharp. “Even if we don’t see ourselves that way, we all have leadership roles, whether it’s with our friends or our family.”

Smith plans to apply Mr. Duncan’s leadership lessons as she prepares the Debate Club to go head-to-head against Norfolk Academy tomorrow. 

“It’s really important for me to give them the keys to be successful, but not smother them with information or be overbearing,” she said. “I need to identify the club’s skills and weak points, and what Mr. Duncan was saying really spoke to that.”

Mr. Duncan also urged students in leadership roles to make themselves useful by going beyond their immediate responsibilities, being authentic and linking their work to a deeper purpose and mission. 


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