It was Henry Ford who was first quoted as saying, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” But it was educators at College Street Elementary who chose to teach their students the merit of that truth by infusing their campus curriculum with leadership training from FranklinCovey’s The Leader In Me program, which draws heavily on principles found in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The components of the program were priced out of reach of the campus budget, so CSE administrators wrote a proposal for a grant for LEF.
“We were excited from the beginning,” CSE Instructional Coach Jill France told LEF, “And now, a year later, I am still so grateful for the LEF grant!” France used the LEF funds to purchase books that integrate the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People into everyday conversation, making the leadership learning cross-curricular.
Students have taken ownership of the program and are fully engaged in it. “It’s been great for our school,” Mason Kantowski, a fifth grade student at CSE and President of CSE Student Council, said. “The habits help so much in daily life. For example, one of them is ‘Think win-win,’ meaning when there is a conflict or a decision to be made, it doesn’t have to mean I win and you lose, we can collaborate to come up with a solution where everyone wins.”
Each student seems to have honed in on a Habit that resonates personally. “It helps me every day when I remember to listen before I talk, or ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood,’” Ademi Webb, Vice President of Student Council at CSE said. “Some of my friends really like ‘Put first things first,’ because it reminds them to get their work done before they do things that are just for fun. And it reminds us that if we do our work, there will be time for the fun!”
Leadership is a great trait, and an important one, but it isn’t a substitute for academics, which are high priority at CSE. “We have used the books to spark some really incredible 7 habits discussions,” France said. “As a result, our young leaders transfer this into their daily lives at school and at home. We were also able to strategically choose books that support our reading comprehension instruction, so 7 habits and reading/social studies integration was seamless. Students have even been tracking their learning using leadership notebooks and we have seen an increase in student reading comprehension this school year.”
CSE Parents like Kim Nash have seen the confidence in the Habits carry over into academics as well. She explained that her son’s academic performance has steadily improved since the implementation of the leadership curriculum. She was quick to note that CSE had great teachers before this program arrived on campus, and that it built on the work those teachers have always done. “’The Leader in Me’ is a confidence builder,” Nash said. “It motivates kids not only to do better, but to take pride in ‘THEIR’ school.”
And now, these CSE students believe they can meet the challenges before them, academic or otherwise. From this vantage point, it appears they are right. A new generation of leaders is rising up in our midst, and LEF donors and supporters have a hand in their success.