Environmental Leadership Portfolios

About Leadership Portfolios at Common Ground

At Common Ground High School, every student creates an online portfolio that shows their growth as a powerful community and environmental leader. They build and refine this portfolio over their four years of high school, and must defend it before they can earn their high school diploma.  

Over time, students develop and revise their own definition of leadership -- rooted in the belief that all students can grow into powerful leaders, and that young people can create positive, sustainable change in a variety of ways. Their portfolio grows into a platform for exploring and sharing who they are; while built on a common Google sites template, students' portfolios come to look very different over time. 

Each year, young people add artifacts and reflections related to the experiences where they've most grown as leaders, in and beyond the classroom. Their reflections look very different in 9th grade than they do senior year; one of the most important lessons we continue to learn is that work on the portfolio needs to reflect young people's development, and meet them where they are. The portfolio becomes a container for other important indicators of learning and leadership, as well: their resumes, reflections on career exploration opportunities, and more. 

During their senior year, students' engage with their portfolios at a much deeper level. They decide which experiences mean the most to them -- going from at least eight reflections, down to five polished ones that form the core of their portfolio. 

The final element that students add to their portfolios is their capstone project. As part of a year-long seminar called Senior Social Justice Experience, students research a social justice issue that matters to them, and then work alone or in small groups to develop a project that helps to address that issue. 

Once students' written portfolios are complete, they stand before a panel of staff and an audience of peers, family, and teachers to defend their portfolio. 


When Common Ground students develop their leadership portfolios, they reflect on how critical experiences demonstrate their growing mastery of these environmental leadership standards. Teachers integrate these standards into course plans, as they... read more
This rubric is used to evaluate students' written portfolios (page 1) and their defenses (page 2). Each portfolio and defense is reviewed by three panelists. This rubric evolves year to year -- for instance, previous versions did not include... read more
Before seniors are cleared to present their senior defense, they need to get signed off on their written portfolio. This checklist is a tool for students and reviewers to be able to check that all components of the portfolio are included and... read more
Every Common Ground student develops their Environmental Leadership Portfolio over their four years as a student- reflecting on both their academic and out-of-class experiences and growth. This document maps out the timeline for student work from... read more
After seniors are signed off on their written Environmental Leadership Portfolio, students begin preparing for their senior defense which happens in the Spring. These defense guidelines are used as both an outline and rubric for developing and... read more
This checklist can be used as a reflection writing guide or a rubric for finished work by both students and reviewers to check that all the needed components of a written reflection are included in the final draft. Reflections must connect to the... read more
This portfolio was created by Bismark Salazar, Class of '16, whose portfolio experience is featured in the video associated with this practice toolkit. Portfolio requirements have changed over time; in 2016, students' portfolios focused... read more
This portfolio was created by Jalyn Johnson, who graduated from Common Ground in 2017. The 16-17 school year was the first year that Senior projects were included in the Environmental Leadership Portfolio and Defense. The 16-17 school year was also... read more