O'Neal Leadership Program

O’Neal School officially announced its Leadership Program. Introduced as a week-long Leadership Academy for varsity student-athletes four years ago, the Leadership Program is a character education offering focusing on the development, cultivation and refinement of comprehensive leadership skills via the Lower School Culture Council, the Middle School Courage League and the Upper School Leadership Academy.

A key factor to the program is its newly announced Director of Leadership and Character Development Charlie McHarney. Mr. McHarney is responsible for setting the vision of the Leadership Program by designing, delivering and evaluating leadership and character development initiatives and programs that develop students, faculty and staff. Prior to this position, Mr. McHarney served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force Special Operations, retiring as a Chief Master Sergeant in November of 2019. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Norwich University in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis.  He is a GALLUP certified Strengths Coach and is also certified in emotional intelligence – EQi2.0 and EQi 360.

This past summer, O’Neal hosted its 4th annual Leadership Academy Camp for Upper School students to kick off the Leadership Academy program with weekly scheduled sessions throughout the year for further development of individual strengths and guidance on emotional intelligence as it pertains to self-perception, self-expression, decision-making, interpersonal relationships, and social responsibility. Duke University Head Sports Performance Coach Dan Perlmutter has routinely served as an advisor for the Academy, participating in multiple Camps as well as sessions throughout the school year progresses.  The theme for this year’s Leadership Academy is “Energy”. Using Jon Gordon’s book, “The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy”, students received “bus tickets” identifying their top five strengths which serve as a reminder to capitalize upon these strengths to create positive energy among classmates, teammates and others.

O'Neal announces Leadership Program

Fourth-grade students in the Culture Council like to host fun activities, like a division-wide dodge ball tournament. 

During school year 2018/2019, under the coordination of Assistant Director of Athletics Kelley Adams, The Culture Council was formed for fourth-grade students, the highest grade in O’Neal’s Lower School.  The Council focuses on recognizing and applying the core values – fairness, accountability, leadership, cooperation, ownership, nurture, and self-discipline – which spells FALCONS. From selecting theme days for the Lower School for school-wide spirit weeks, to planning activities for the PreK and kindergarten students, to observing student forums in the Middle and Upper Schools, the Culture Council takes ownership of their planning and makes decisions with their core values in mind.

Just this past month, the final component of the Leadership Program was introduced – The Middle School Courage League. Students in grades 5-8 participate in activities to amplify social-emotional learning through engagement in critical conversations while exploring decision-making scenarios. They discover their own personal values and work through right vs wrong in order to apply principled decision making, fundamental to the character development process.

O'Neal announces its Leadership Program

Courage League participants meet to discuss the process in which Courage League will plan activities and events.

For Leadership Academy, each year facilitators nominate students for inclusion into the program for the following academic year. Entry into the Courage League is by an application process and teacher recommendations at the beginning of the school year. Students may apply for the Culture Council at the beginning of the second semester.

There are eight critical components to the Leadership Program; Citizenship, Critical Thinking, Communication Skills, Collaboration, Self-Direction, Conflict Management, Project Management and Service Learning.  Of these components, service learning – planning and execution of service projects throughout the year to demonstrate leadership through action within the community – is critical for character development. It is also the component that will bring all three sections of the Leadership Program together to utilize their core values, demonstrate quality decision-making and collaborate with others for one common good. 

“It is extremely humbling to serve the O’Neal community in this capacity,” remarks Charlie McHarney. “I am very thankful for the opportunity to contribute to such an incredible institution and I am excited to see the program continue to grow.”

For more information about the Leadership Program, visit www.onealschool.org/student-life/leadership-program.

Feature photo: Director of Leadership and Character Development Charlie McHarney addresses members of the Leadership Academy at their kick-off camp this summer.


Courtesy photos/Contributed.

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