Leadership and Team Building

Leadership Philosophy

 When the journalism room first became my home, I only focused on writing. But, as a leader to 72 students on staff, I made it my goal to ensure that each reporter feels like they belong in the journalism room and could contribute their passions to the publication, whether it was writing, social media, photography, or something completely new. My goal is to have a conversation with every staff member  to understand what drives them toward storytelling and what they hope to achieve. I am dedicated to leading by example, and encourage all of the editors to operate with the same mindset to always present ourselves as leaders and exemplify the responsibilities and values that we expect from all staff members.


The word clarity guides everything that I strive to achieve as a coach and mentor. In order for every staff member to feel valued and a part of our community as journalists, there must be absolute transparency about expectations and follow-through. Fridays in the editor’s class are dedicated to team bonding and leadership activities to focus on the organizational health of the team, which then encourages the same teamwork and vulnerability for all staff members. For the first time, the managing team discussed a summer reading novel for the editors, which we then discussed in the first week of school. We decided on Patrick Lencioni's "The Advantage" because of its enforcement of clarity in order to achieve organizational health.

As a leader, clarity is my guiding principle when I am thinking about how staff members can feel best supported. This involves being transparent about deadlines and expectations, handling conflict head-on and being a reliable confidante for any staff member who may be struggling. When determining which editors were coming for layout, I created complete transparency by asking everyone when they were coming in and writing it down on the main whiteboard.

Knowing our purpose

In Lencioni's book, he talks about the importance for every team to know their purpose and be able to answer six critical questions about why and how they function. I took notes from our conversations about the novel and also opened up a Harkness discussion, compiling them into one synthesized document so that we all could be on the same page about what people strive to achieve with their role on The Standard. I also printed out our vision statement and taped it outside of the journalism room so that there is no ambiguity about our goals and our place in the school as a student publication. 

Class planning

Every night before class, I call with the two Deputy EiCs to assess how the last few classes have gone and discuss what would be most valuable to do the following day. I bring a few ideas of my own, and listen to what the Deputy EiCs need on the print and online sides. Once we have established the activities with the appropriate amount of time, I let our adviser know so that she can approve the plan.

Teaching other publications

For two years in a row, The Standard has been approached by a nearby school to get their news site up and running and learn about the basics of journalism. I have taught workshops on topics from how to conduct a fair interview to opinion writing to marketing to organizational health. As a British school – and without our recently signed press freedoms document – they are held to different guidelines for censorship and prior review, which I discussed with their adviser to give the best possible advice about how to continue covering controversial issues. This year, they had created an entire politics section, demonstrating that it is imperative for student journalists to know their rights and defend them even when they might receive administrative pushback. 

Staff culture

When staff members come to me with concerns about the way that they have been spoken to by other journalists or members of the school community, I address the situation immediately in order to preserve The Standard’s culture of kindness and respect. For example, when an editor came to me about flippant comments she had received from a reporter who had rejected all of her suggestions, I spoke to the reporter – with her permission, and after consulting with my adviser – about why the editing process is set up a certain way and that it was unacceptable to make derogatory comments to a team member.

Editor-in-Chief Panel

I was asked to be a panelist for a session titled the Editor-in-Chief Roundtable with four other Editors-in-Chiefs from high school publications. It was the only student-led session and amassed an audience of about 300 people. It was incredible to be able to discuss my leadership style and put it into the context of our school, while learning so much from the other EiCs and how they lead their staff. 

Mini lessons

All editors are able to sign up to teach a mini lesson on any topic they choose, whether it be photography techniques, design inspiration or editing strategies. In the fall, I noticed that I was leaving upwards of 50 edits or comments on most stories, and thought it would be beneficial to remind the editors of some editing basics. I presented this slideshow that I made on the "Editing ABCs."

Team bond

In order to work efficiently together, tackle conflict head-on and above all, enjoy the experience of creating content with shared goals of contributing to our school community, I believe it is essential to connect as much as possible outside of the classroom. Not only does team bonding foster an imperative sense of belonging and family that The Standard has always been known for, but it ensures that class time remains focused and task-oriented.


Every other Friday, I started a tradition in the editors’ class of having an open conversation related to a few specific criteria so that we could gauge our progress throughout the year. We decided collectively on the criteria and grading scale, using report card-esque lettering system. I do not write down a grade until at least one person from every section has had the opportunity to comment. This regular activity has created incredible bonding moments as editors share recent work that they are proud of, or acknolwedge that there is still a great amount of room for improvement in one of these areas. 

Goal-setting and reflection

In order to continuously improve the publication and how we function as a staff, I believe goal-setting is invaluable to honing in on specific action. Each section list has a place for goal-setting for each month, and we regularly give class time for sections to create goals together. After every print issue, I lead a Chalk Talk where everyone silently writes on poster paper – What went well, what we learned and what we need to improve on – and then we read out each comment one-by-one. These papers are pinned to the wall as reminders of how far we came in just a couple of months, and what we still need to do to make our publication the best that it can be.

This also involved online check-in Zooms in December, as the Deputy EiC: Online and I noticed that stories were in rough condition and editors were struggling to meet deadlines. We led these Zooms with each section to discuss how to address these issues and plan for success in the second semester.

Editor team building

I introduced Fun Fridays – the name hasn’t quite caught on – where I incorporate both a leadership exercise and team-building activity into the class plan. From doing mad-libs of our mission statement to word association brainstorming games, Fun Fridays have positively impacted the dynamic of the editors class.

Cultivating leadership

In Grade 11, I regularly attended the Beginning Journalism class during my free period. I folded a piece of paper in half and created an impromptu name plate that read “Ask the Editor,” where anyone could approach me anytime during class with questions or simply receive advice on their writing before it was sent to the first editor. It was one of my favorite experiences that I ever had in the journalism room; I felt valued and knew that I wanted to give staff members as many leadership opportunities as possible to feel the same sense of connection and belonging.

Mental health

Being an editor is tough, and the added commitment can also interfere with a staff member's desire to write or take photos simply because they do not have the time. When I became Editor-in-Chief in May of last year, I scheduled one-on-one meetings with every editor so I could hear more about their aspirations on staff and ensure that people knew they could come to me if they were ever overwhelmed or dealing with a conflict. 

Connecting across classes

Although I do not have a free period in Grade 12, I have made an avid attempt to remain connected and available to the entire staff by leading lunches in January and February with all three of the beginning and advanced journalism classes. These lunches are informal; writers speak to editors from different sections, and I pop around to say hello to everyone personally and hear generally about what type of content they are most interested in pursuing in journalism. 

"Knowing Clara all four years of her time on The Standard, I can say she is like no other student journalist I’ve encountered. In the newsroom, Clara stands out in two ways: her tenacity is contagious, and she is unapolegetically curious. With quiet grace, she leads each staff member in discovering their passion for journalism, just as she has found hers. "

Grace Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

"Clara is one of the most passionate journalists I know, as she goes above and beyond to ensure that all content published is the best it can be. From her highly organised schedules in class and the several team bonding activities she has planned, it is clear that she prioritises both the success of the publication and unity among members of the editorial board. "

Sophia Bassi, Lead News Editor

"Clara never fails to keep spirits high, ensure that deadlines are met and create an environment that all editors feel welcome in as soon as they step into the room. But most importantly, having Clara as my Editor-in-Chief meant always knowing that someone had my back no matter what and that I had an amazing journalist and person right there to guide me throughout any uncertainties. "

Vittoria de Meo, Sports Editor: Print

"Clara’s composure, vast knowledge and phenomenal journalistic instincts serve as the backbone of the publication, with writers of all ages and all backgrounds eager to make her proud. As the guiding force of The Standard, Clara produced a staff that is committed to following her example of curiosity and determination as she continually shows us that there is a story everywhere."

Anna Reznick, Lead Culture Editor

"Clara’s feedback is naturally valuable to editors and reporters alike because it shapes them into the journalists they want to be— that’s the effect it has had on me, at least. It’s indicative of her intelligence, which, naturally, makes for a sharp wit and focused drive that translates into high-quality journalistic work that shines through in every story she puts pen to paper on."

Jaden Gardiola, Culture Editor: Online