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Leadership development at Nolley instilling habits for success

3/27/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Joyce Rainey Long

Third-grader Eddie Rawling leads his class in the daily recitation of the class motto.
Kindergarten teacher Katie Zuchowski reads “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids” to Tyler Pappas.
Photos: Joyce Rainey Long
NEW FRANKLIN — Teachers at Nolley Elementary School are hearing the words “synergize” and “proactive” spoken in the hallways.

The school started The Leader in Me program this school year, and staff, students and parents are pleased with the results, said Nolley Principal Christi Pappas.

The Leader in Me is based on the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey. The Leader in Me “produces transformational results such as higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems and an increased engagement among teachers and parents,” according to the website, www.leaderinme.org.

After reading the book, Pappas said she wanted to implement the leadership principals at Nolley. Last May, the school received a $15,000 grant from the GAR Foundation for the program, and the grant can be renewed up to two times, she said.

“This helps so children early on can have confidence, be leaders and make good choices,” said Pappas. “This gives us a common language that is consistent across every grade level, and the expectations are the same. This has been really exciting.”

Leadership skills are integrated into daily lessons for all the students in kindergarten through grade four, Pappas said, adding that all of the teachers received leadership training this past summer. Students have workbooks on the seven habits, and teachers read stories about leadership. The workbooks were paid for by a $2,000 donation from the PTA, Pappas said.

Children are taught the seven leadership principals, which are: be proactive and in charge; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand and then be understood; synergize and work together; and sharpen the saw and be balanced.

Bulletin boards and posters decorate the school and feature leadership concepts.

“We even have signs by the restroom mirrors that say, ‘Can you see the leader in me?’” said Pappas.

Families at Nolley were introduced to The Leader in Me program Feb. 25-26, when 900 people attended a family night and spaghetti dinner and heard Nolan Marx, a senior client partner at FranklinCovey, speak.

“The students demonstrated their leadership and served as greeters, servers, videographers, photographers and singers,” said Pappas about the family nights.

“The kids get this,” said third-grade teacher Shari Gardner. “The whole environment of the school is changing, and it’s amazing. We’re teaching the kids to take ownership of their behavior and the choices they make, whether they are bad or good.”

In Gardner’s classroom, the students recite the class motto they wrote together each day. The motto reads in part, “We will follow the 7 Habits and the Golden Rule to achieve our goals. We will learn new things, learn from each other and learn from our mistakes.”

Gardner said the students are grasping the new concepts and enjoying the lessons.

“We want to develop leadership skills in children so they can become successful adults,” Gardner said.

Third-grader Tylor Lewis said the older students are role models for the younger ones.

“We are showing we’re role models for the littler kids by how we act,” he said. “We walk in a straight line and we are quiet in the halls.”

In Mary Grandson’s second-grade classroom, her students put notes about each other on a bulletin board when they see a classmate showing leadership. She said she observed a student misbehaving and another student told him, “Don’t be a follower; be a leader. You are making a bad choice.”

The Leader in Me will continue in the future, Pappas said.

“We’re hoping this carries on throughout the students’ lives,” said Pappas. “This isn’t a program. It’s a process they instill in themselves.”

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