Monday, July 1st 2013

HAS first in state to offer ‘Leader in Me’ program at middle school level

Written by Amy Mayhew
Wednesday, June 26 2013

More than 40 staff members and...

HOLLY, Michigan – Holly Area Schools will soon add another feather to its cap as staff members of Holly Middle School prepare to bring FranklinCovey’s The Leader in Me program into the school this fall, making it a “Lighthouse School,” or the first middle school in Michigan to offer the program.

This week, more than 40 staff members and paraprofessionals gave up three days of their personal time to receive training in the popular leadership program.

The Leader in Me is a whole-school transformation model that acts like the operating system of a computer — it improves performance of all other programs. Based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Leader in Me produces transformational results such as higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems, and increased engagement among teachers and parents. Better yet, The Leader in Me equips students with the self-confidence and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century economy.

Following the completion of this week’s training, Holly Middle School Principal Elise Schmidt said staff members will reconvene in late August for “Implementation Day.”  

“The three days this week are for staff on a more personal level – for us to go through the process ourselves,” she said. “We will use the next couple of months to internalize the process, and prepare to teach it to the kids this fall.”

Charles Fonbuena, a trainer with FranklinCovey,  said the fact that the staff members were willing to give up three days of their personal time to attend the training speaks volumes about the integrity and positive attitude of the teachers. “One of the things we talked about is if you want to help the students, this is really about you first,” Fonbuena said. “This really isn’t about, ‘If you do it, I’ll do it’ – it’s about, ‘Am I going to do this regardless?’” Fonbuena said the only way teachers are able to truthfully able to answer the question is to determine if the program makes sense to them on a personal level.

In an effort to learn more about the benefits of the program, a group of middle school teachers attended “Leadership Day” events held at two Leader in Me middle schools in Ohio and Kentucky this spring.

Referencing his visit to the Kentucky middle school, Jack Prechowski, a seventh grade social studies instructor, discussed how the program is able to reach all students rather than just a select group.

“What I liked about it was the amount of kids who were involved, and had jobs and had leadership roles – it just wasn’t your top 10 percent, it was everybody,” he said. “It really allowed a lot of those kids’ leadership ability to come out that I don’t believe otherwise would have if they weren’t given that opportunity.”

Fellow colleague and mathematics instructor, Ryan Smith agreed.

“This isn’t something that is new – this is something that exists in any organization or in any place where you have people together,” he said. “We’re just focusing on these 7 Habits in a leadership way that will spread out and help our students, our test scores, our behavior, our teachers – we’re looking for a way to support all of those things.”

What sets it apart from the elementary school version of the program lies in releasing more responsibilities to the students as they grow older, Fonbuena said.

“As we take this from elementary to middle school, teachers are going to have to empower them to do more and more,” he said. “We talked about this idea of the kind of old management style which was control – you had to have control.” Fonbuena said, adding that control is no longer the answer.

“What you need in order to create other leaders is to  release responsibility appropriately and responsibly,” he said. “So with kids at the elementary school level, you release, and for middle school aged kids, you release more.”

“We’re going to be this Lighthouse School in the state of Michigan, and to be the first one to do that, I think excites all of us,” Prechowski said. Severe budget cuts in years past, Prechowski said, have proven to be a challenge. “We all want to put us back on the map, and I think this is the way to do it.”

In addition to offering The Leader in Me program, Schmidt said all HMS students will be taking a technology elective next year to provide 21st Century skills. “Going from a five period day to a six period day has opened opportunities for student to take other exploratory electives, reduce class sizes, and offer additional support in all content areas,” she said. Additionally, Schmidt said HMS has added technology labs for next year, Spanish and French for seventh graders, and will continue to offer advanced mathematics, eighth grade Spanish for high school credit, band, choir, and physical education.

For more information on Holly Middle School and its programs, contact the Holly Area Schools Administrative offices at (248) 328-3100.


#1 Jesse Lambert 2013-06-27 09:42
I happened to read 7 Habits throughout my senior year at Walsh. It was required reading at the time (2008).

The book turned out to be a wonderfully simple and enjoyable read.

The seven habits offer an easy to digest summary on intangibles that often get overlooked in today's society.

Glad to see a continuing shift of paradigm at HAS, just keep that saw sharp.
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