Leader in Me program touted

Lack of funding limits participation

The Leader in Me, a school enrichment process that teaches leadership and life skills to elementary students, has made considerable strides in the last 10 years within public and private schools in Southwest Louisiana. However, recent school participation in the concept has dropped considerably due to lack of funding, said John Henning, owner of The Stables at Le Bocage where an upcoming fundraiser to benefit the program will be in October.

Pam Quebedeaux, principal of Lake Charles Charter Academy and former principal of Calcasieu’s first Leader in Me School, Dolby Elementary School, said, “It’s critical to the success of a school culture.  It’s important that we believe in the success of our students.”

Historically, local schools that have implemented the program have seen significant decreases in discipline infractions and chronic absenteeism, both which improve overall student performance. Quebedeaux added, “It’s really not a program.  It’s a framework.  All kids can be great.  Sometimes, kids don’t see it in themselves and it’s our responsibility as adults to help them know it.”

Based on “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, The Leader in Me uses kid-friendly wording to instill the timeless principles taught in Covey’s best seller: Be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand than to be understood, synergize and sharpen the saw. Through the embedding of these proven practices, students, faculties and whole schools have seen dramatics culture changes across the nation and worldwide.

Concerning the lack of funding Henning remarked, “We need something like this in more schools. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.  Let’s not point fingers at anyone, let’s just do something about it.”

George Swift, president of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance, was involved in bringing the framework to Calcasieu parish nearly 10 years ago.  Upon hearing Covey speak about the success schools were having with the concept and through visiting campuses that were fully implementing the practices, Swift said he knew the program was needed locally.

 “If we could get that in our entire five parish region, we would have a model school system now and for the future. When you get the young people developed early they will carry it with them through life,” he said.

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In the file photo from 2012, second graders at Dolby Elementary show guests their binders full of the seven steps of being a “Leader in Me.”

Brad Puckett

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