Pengiun Hall is Offering Exclusive Leadership Curriculum Designed to Close the Gender Confidence and Leadership Gap

Wenham, MA— July 27, 2020– The Academy at Penguin Hall, an independent all girls college preparatory school located on 50 beautiful acres in Wenham, MA, announced it will exclusively offer a four-year academic leadership program on the North Shore. The Academy at Penguin Hall was selected from a competitive list of national girls’ school candidates to implement The Leadership Course for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“We are intentionally developing the next generation of women CEOs, entrepreneurs, social activists and government and business leaders based on what research shows us will make the most significant impact on the trajectory of a young woman’s life,” said Molly Martins, founder and president of The Academy at Penguin Hall. “To support our rigorous college preparatory curriculum and leadership development, we even have an executive boardroom where our students lead meetings. In the same way our students participate in their math or science classes, they are now attending their applied-neuroscience leadership class in a state-of-the-art boardroom.”

The program was designed, and continues to be advised by, professors from Harvard University; The U.S. Military Academy at West Point; The Center on Leadership & Ethics at Duke University; Tufts University; and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; as well as other leading education experts and experts in gender-based leadership development.

“Our research shows that girls’ confidence and leadership gaps begin to emerge in adolescence, so this is a critical time in a young woman’s development to head off those gaps through evidence-based practices,” said Dr. Diane Ryan, former deputy head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point and the current Associate Dean at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. “By incorporating these essential leadership skills and abilities into the high school experience, we are setting girls on the path to success.”

Dr. Ryan served as an advisor on the development of the curriculum, along with Julie Carrier, lead developer of The Leadership Course and “No. 1 Coach for Young Women” by Leading Global Coaches and Thinkers 50.

“We would not expect a student taking a literature class to automatically know algebra. The same is true for leadership. These skills must be taught, and taught the right way,” said Julie Carrier, a former senior management consultant for leadership development at the Pentagon and advisory board member for the U.N. Foundation’s Girl Up program. “While many schools recognize the need for this programming, they may not have the capacity to research and implement an evidence-based program effectively. Bringing together some of the foremost experts in the nation, we have created a program that is doable for faculty, staff and students.”

The Leadership Course is the first-of-its-kind academic leadership curriculum, based in applied neuroscience, for high school girls taught during the academic school day. It is delivered within a framework that engages faculty (as certified in-school Leadership Coaches) and students as both learners and leaders.

Dr. Carol Kauffman, founder of the Institute of Coaching at Harvard Medical School and an advisor on the curriculum, takes a long-view approach to investments in high school-based leadership development programs.

“Traditional, academic-only approaches prepare girls to succeed in the classroom, but lose in the boardroom,” said Dr. Kauffman. “These outdated approaches are doing girls a disservice in a world that requires them to have grit, resilience, strong leadership, and a sense of self to succeed. If we want more female CEOs, this is what we need to do.”

The program tailors leading corporate leadership development best practices, guided by gender-specific research on the needs of girls and positive youth development, to deliver a curriculum that includes:

  • The neuroscience of confidence
  • Overcoming imposter syndrome
  • Character strengths
  • Leadership identity
  • Leading effective teams
  • Public speaking mastery
  • Developing a growth mindset

The Leadership Course is a result of nearly four years of research and development. Pilot testing showed statistically significant increases in leader identity, academic achievement, teamwork and belonging. Rigorous assessments will continue to evaluate the impact of the program as it is implemented.

Dr. Nicole Cervantes, the Director of Student Leadership, said “I am so excited to bring this program into our community and to reinforce the message of empowerment for young women. Leadership development at The Academy at Penguin Hall has always been an integral part of our program’s mission. To be selected to work with such a distinguished group of leaders to support our students and future students is an honor.”

As a result of the new program and the interest by local families and prospective students, The Academy at Penguin Hall is still accepting applications for all grades 9-12 in the Fall.  Visit Penguin Hall at