Leaders to be born at L.J. Bell Elementary

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt’s words are just one of several new quotes that line the halls at L.J. Bell Elementary School, but when students enter the school on Aug. 26, a new color scheme won’t be the only thing they’ll find. The elementary school plans to house a new initiative that will empower students with the tools they need to become leaders at an early age.

A Richmond County Schools photo

A Richmond County Schools photo

The Leader In Me program serves as a school-wide model designed to boost teacher effectiveness, student engagement and academics while developing young leaders with 21st century skills. When implemented in schools, the program integrates concepts from Sean Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. The seven habits encourage students to be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergize; and “sharpen the saw.”

After seeing several components of the program in a former school, Principal Yvonne Gilmer said she felt that L.J. Bell was a great match to fully implement the seven habits. To inspire her faculty and staff, the group traveled to South Scotland Elementary — another Leader In Me school — to see the program in motion.

“It’s really a framework of which you operate your school day,” Gilmer explained. “It’s not a lot more work — it’s just a different way of thinking.”

She added that she hopes the program will affect student learning as well.

The first year of the Leader In Me program establishes a culture of leadership within a school by focusing on various principles that allow both staff and students to discover their true potential. Next, a specific plan is made to implement these principles in the classroom.

The second year involves the application of the seven habits as well as empowering staff and students to be effective leaders. The third year is spent maximizing results and creating a culture that is unique to the school.

While the Leader In Me program generally takes around three years to integrate, many schools have found that they could achieve their goals even sooner.

“Our goal at L.J. Bell is to be done in two years,” Gilmer said, “as well as to receive national Lighthouse recognition.”

In order to become a Lighthouse School, L.J. Bell must align the Leader In Me fundamentals with the school’s curriculum, discipline, beliefs and culture. If successful, the school will serve as a reference point for other Leader In Me schools and will be available for others in the program to tour and explore.

A quick glance throughout the school will reflect some of the changes that are already taking place. Colorful artwork can be found on every hall, including motivational quotes selected by teachers in each grade level and a life-sized representation of the 7 Habits Tree, which relays each of the concepts students and staff are to be implementing. A student leadership board will also greet visitors with pictures and names of students who demonstrate exemplary leadership.

The program will include all students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and the foundation, Gilmer said, is based heavily on skills that prepare them to be college and career ready, tap into their talents and give them the opportunity to shine.

“We just want to make sure that every child has their place and finds a voice,” she said.

Click here for more information on the Leader In Me program.

Filed in: Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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