Leader in Me day shines spotlight on academic success

The James Ward Elementary School Choir performs “Be The Change” on Friday during the school’s fourth annual Leader in Me Leadership Day. Students celebrated victories in attendance, behavior, and academics through chants and musical performances.

Doris MaricleJefferson Davis Parish Reporter
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JENNINGS — Students at James Ward Elementary School got a chance to show off their leadership skills and share their academic successes Friday with parents, community leaders and other guests during the fourth annual Leader in Me Leadership Day.

The event was an opportunity for students and faculty to show the public what they have been working on and demonstrate skills that will make them future leaders.

“Leadership Day is an opportunity for our school to open its doors to family members and guests and celebrate the great things that are happening with the Leader in Me,” Principal Suzanne Doucet said.

The program puts the spotlights on students and offers staff members the opportunity to showcase their creative ideas, she said.

“Once a school commits to a date for Leadership Day, all sorts of good things begin to happen,” Doucet said. “Hallways start to look more colorful. Students start preparing speeches, songs and skits, and staff members start thinking of their favorite ideas to share.”

The students also celebrated victories in attendance, behavior and academics through chants and musical performances during a morning assembly. Students also shared their success stories in the classroom with visitors during school tours.

“We are here to make good things happen to other people,” second-grader Ella Laughlin said.

The Leader in Me program is based on the seven principles outlined in Steven R. Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Doucet said this is the fourth year the school has participated in the program. Next year, the school will be seeking national Leader in Me Lighthouse Status, which means the school will be designated as a model Leader in Me School after a stringent review process in early 2019.

Doucet said the program has helped make a difference in young children’s lives.

“By focusing on leadership, culture and academics in our daily routines, teachers and children are benefitting in their personal lives as they live the seven habits,” she said.

Research is showing that schools now need to provide social/emotional learning opportunities for students who may not have those experiences outside of the classroom, she said.

Second-grader Jazlyn Lewis said the program has taught her how to be kind and how to speak in front of people without being shy.

“Leader in Me has taught me how to make new friends, never be bad and be a leader,” first-grader Imri Castille said.

Second-grader Kyson Daniel said the program has taught him how to put first things first. He said he has learned to do his homework before watching television.

Doucet said students are learning to be proactive in their decision-making, make good choices in their lives, and work well with their peers and adults.

“They are learning to be strong leaders capable of leading an assembly of more than 600 people at the tender age of 8,” she said. “As an added bonus, we have seen an improvement in attendance rates and student achievement and a reduction in the number of serious discipline problems. This is definitely a win-win situation for all stakeholders — students, families, teachers, staff and our community.”

Students start each day with a 10-minute lead time session. During this time students are taught the “Seven Habits of Happy Kids,” which is based on Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

In addition, students are provided with a student leadership guide workbook. Each grade level covers 38 key concepts around the themes of “Creating a Leadership Classroom, Leading Self, Leading Others and More Ways to Lead.”

Leader in Me principles are also woven into the daily lessons of math and English language arts where appropriate.

Welsh Elementary School Principal Rory Myers was among those observing students in the classroom.

“It’s wonderful to see them be responsible for their own goals and learning and taking ownership of that,” Myers said.

The students also learn to set goals, perform daily tasks, track data, lead activities and work both individually and as a group.