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There's a 'Leader in Everyone' at Holly Elementary School

Written by Anna Troppens
Friday, October 05 2012

Steve Yauch, client partner wi...

HOLLY, Michigan - Every student is a leader in something. That’s one of the principles Holly Elementary School is embracing, as part of “The Leader in Me,” program, Steve Yauch, of FranklinCovey said Thursday. The Leader in Me is a school-wide process to develop students and staff as leaders, using The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Holly Elementary School is one of 60 schools in the U.S., and one of two in Michigan to be chosen by its likelihood of becoming a Lighthouse School, Yauch said. Beaumont Elementary, in Waterford, has become a Lighthouse School, and he said he hopes Holly Elementary will become one, too. School staff has come together and are passionate about The Leader in Me program, something Yauch says is a real honor to be chosen for the grant, which requires support from the school district.

“You have it,” he added.

Like teachers, students are also excited about the program.

Jacob Warner, a sixth-grader, said, “There’s so much positive energy here, it’s hard not to take some home.” Enthusiastic to come to school every day, Jacob said he knows he’ll get to learn more and be happier in the process. Jacob said teachers appear to be happier, too.

“Instead of having different groups of students working on separate things, we are all there working together,” he said. “We are on the same level – on the same page.”

Holly Elementary School has a five-year commitment for the process, which is designed to transform the culture of the school and be everywhere — in the classrooms, the office, the public address system, the lunch room and the playground. It’s not to teach children how to be CEOs, he said, but rather to help students and empower them to be leaders.

Students will be taking leadership roles at Holly Elementary for The Leader in Me. Teacher Jennifer Rose said the Lighthouse Student Leadership Team is a group of students nominated by their teachers, for their understanding of the 7 Habits and for having shown leadership.

"They are going to be leaders and show us what students want to do," Rose said.

Holly Kiwanis officer Brad Sti...

In addition to the grant, the school has a $1,000 donation for The Leader in Me from the Holly Kiwanis Club, Superintendent Kent Barnes said. Holly Kiwanis officers Brad Stilwell, of Stilwell Construction, and John Winglemire, of Winglemire Furniture, presented the check to Principal Franklin Cox on Thursday morning.

Wendy Kraut, who teaches mainstreamed autistic students has noticed a lot less children in the office for discipline and behavior problems. “Students’ behavior has improved, because they’ve realized they aren’t just that kid that has to be in the office,” she said. “It works for everyone – all students can become leaders.”

And students are taking the 7 Habits from The Leader in Me home with them after school. Jacob LaClair, a sixth-grader, said students can remember the 7 Habits and calm down.

“It changes what you are doing if you get mad at home,” Jacob said.

Danielle Drury, also a student, said they keep binders to stay organized. “It helps with making sure our homework and other assignments are completed, and whether we’re meeting the goals we set for ourselves,” she said.

Yauch, who is from Milford, travels to schools in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. “In Holly, they’re just coming out of the gates flying,” he said.

It’s amazing to be a part of The Leader in Me, Yauch said. Every school can have some impact, whether it’s rural or urban, poor or rich. The process empowers students to be leaders. “It can change any school.”

Holly Elementary School’s journey began when a small group of teachers visited Beaumont Elementary in the spring, for its leadership day. Beaumont Elementary’s involvement and level of commitment was so inspiring to them, they knew they had to bring it to Holly Elementary, Holly’s teacher leaders said.

When Holly Elementary School teachers found out their school was selected for a grant for The Leader in Me program, they were in the process of repainting. “We worked over the summer to make the building look different,” teacher Jennifer Ladd said, adding that the new colors and murals reflect The Leader in Me process, and replace white walls.

In addition, teachers had training during the summer for the process. “They are excited to see what types of transformations they can make in the school and community,” teachers’ consultant, Beth Przybylski said. “We feel we are just at the beginning.”

Seven Habits from The The Leader in Me:
Holly Elementary School fourth-graders Avery Forbes and Skye McDougal, who greeted visitors at their school's Press Day, explained the 7 Habits and what each means.

Habit 1 — Be proactive. You’re in charge.
Habit 2 — Begin with the end in mind. Have a plan.
Habit 3 — Put first things first. Work first, then play.
Habit 4 — Think win-win. Everyone can win.
Habit 5 — Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen before you talk.
Habit 6 — Synergize. Together is better.
Habit 7 — Sharpen the saw. Balance feels best.
And remember to take care of yourself.

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