Cloverdale Hopes to Inspire Leadership with Students

Cloverdale Elementary School leaders are trying to put their students on the path to greatness. Wednesday, teachers continued their training in “The Leader in Me” process.

“The Leader in Me” is based on the principles of Stephen Covey's popular book, “ 7 habits of highly effective people.”

The leadership program has been implemented in 450 schools around the world, and there are 35 schools participating in Alabama. Cloverdale Elementary School is the first in this part of the state.

“We recognized that a lot of our students at Cloverdale had that hidden potential for leadership,” says Aneta Walker, principal of Cloverdale Elementary School.

Now the school is giving them the tools to reach that potential.

Walker says, “I am extremely thrilled about it. I believe it is a way to help develop kids to be effective outside of school. I just think it's going to have a profound effect on every student in my building.”

The leader in me is designed to be integrated into a school's core curriculum. Teachers say it's not one more thing they have to do, but it's a better way of doing things they already do.

"It's not a program that the teacher will teach at 8:30 every morning. It's not something else that they will add to their curriculum. It’s really is a different language that they will use to teach the curriculum they have always taught," says Franklin Covey Corporation consultant, Jane Knight.

Walker goes on to say, "The leader in me is everything we do. It's a language. It's the way we speak to kids. It's the way we develop them, helping them to understand how to be proactive in class and how to begin with the end in mind."

"So they will be using the language of: be proactive, thank you, you were a leader today, I saw that you began with the end in mind. The more they use that language, the more the kids practice the habits. The more the kids practice the habits, the more they are living with responsibility, and vision, and integrity and consideration and courage, and respect," says Knight.

In order for the initiative to become affective with students, teachers must adopt these habits first.

Knight says, "We can't teach what we don't know, and we can't teach what we don't live with something like this. If we aren't modeling it then what we say coming out of our mouths is disconnected and kids don't buy it."
A 5th grade teacher at Cloverdale Elementary School, Patty Pratt says, "I'm going to start on a personal level. The school we visited in Tuscaloosa began with the teachers themselves. They said that we cannot go out and sell this to their students if they did not adopt the habits themselves."

Teachers began integrating the principles into class back in the fall, and they are already beginning to see results.

“I was very surprised and very proud when one of my students who took one of the other habits, which is called "think win-win", and applied it. As soon as he heard about two organisms something that mutually benefits both. He raised his and said, ‘Miss Pratt that reminds me of the habit... think win-win.’"

Principal Walker hopes that “The Leader in Me” will continue to grow throughout the Wiregrass, and other schools will embrace the program and develop leaders within their schools as well.

This is made possible through a $22,000 grant from the Wiregrass Foundation.


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