by KIM HILSENBECK
Last fall, the Hays Free Press profiled Elm Grove Elementary as they began the process of implementing The Leader in Me. The program incorporates Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” into the existing culture and curriculum of a school.
Students build leadership qualities including taking responsibility, working with a team, goal setting, problem solving and conflict resolution. These qualities are not just done in a few short lessons and forgotten; they are consistently integrated into the school’s daily activities, routines and curriculum.
The goal is to have well-mannered students who take an active role in their education to produce a campus where disciplinary problems go down and responsibility goes up. Teachers, administrators and parents are all involved, modeling the behavior at school and at home.
At Elm Grove, the result after just a few weeks was noticeable. Principal Kathy Faulks said she saw a huge difference in her students once they rolled out the program.
On Friday, the Hays Free Press visited Elm Grove again for their half-day program announcing the school’s decision to become a Leader in Me Lighthouse school – there are only 37 designated lighthouse schools in the country. More than 1,120 are in the Leader in Me program.
It takes about three years to earn that distinction.
The day began with a pep rally and award ceremony; students took the lead throughout the event, acting as the welcoming committee and emcees for different parts of the program.
During the pep rally, the Eaglettes cheer team helped get the crowd of students, parents, teachers, school board members and even visiting educators from Leander ISD and Del Valle ISD excited about the program. A few students from each class received a coveted award from Faulks for modeling one of the habits.
The event moved to the cafeteria where the audience heard an overview of the Leader in Me initiative. Special comments from representatives of each grade explained the program and how it benefits them personally.
Student guides then led visitors to classrooms across the campus where leadership was on full display and committed practice, including older students reading to younger students.
The Eagles encourage the community to support the “Leader in Me Initiative” by sharing the project with others, mentoring, becoming a career or leadership speaker, sponsoring a field trip or program, donating food or beverages or materials and supplies.