In 2012, Clarke Elementary School adopted a school-wide leadership development initiative for students and staff members. The initiative, called The Leader in Me, is based on the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. It uses the 7 Habits process as a foundational piece to integrate leadership principles into school culture.
The Leader in Me isn’t another extra-curricular activity that requires external effort from students and staff. Instead, it’s fully integrated into the school’s core curriculum and everyday language. The initiative helps students acquire the self-confidence and skills needed to succeed as leaders in the 21st century, while raising levels of accountability and engagement among both students and staff. Teachers also credit the program with improved academic achievement and decreased discipline referrals.
Four years ago, Assistant Principal Randy Bolton wanted to find a way for every elementary student to excel regardless of age, race, socio-economic status or home situation. He discovered that schools using the 7 Habits process saw long-term improvement in student attitudes, achievement and positivity. The school then partnered with Clarke County State Bank to acquire a grant to fund its own leadership initiative. As a strong advocate for the initiative, the bank provided a financial commitment over a three-year period totaling nearly $50,000. The Leader in Me is now in its fourth year at Clarke Elementary, and its second year at Clarke Middle School.
“The Leader in Me empowers students to be leaders in their own lives. Many of our students come from struggling home environments, so discovering their potential at school creates opportunities for success both at school and at home. The purpose of the initiative is to unleash the potential in every student that enters the door at Clarke,” says Bolton.
The Leader in Me is drawing attention from outside of the Osceola community, as well. New families have cited the leadership initiative and Clarke’s inclusive environment as reasons for enrolling their child. The initiative has also attracted faculty applicants.
Nationwide, school leadership programs have produced students who are effective, kind and collaborative. As Clarke grows in volume and diversity, The Leader in Me will help guide students to a future of success. To learn more about The Leader in Me and its progress at Clarke, contact Assistant Principal Randy Bolton at [email protected].
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