|Ruth Moyer Elementary students presented on their first year with the Leader in Me initiative. The program introduces leadership "habits" that encourage student engagement and leadership.|
By Robin Gee
The 2019-2020 school year is the first year for the Ruth Moyer Elementary Leader in Me program. As the February student showcase feature, students from the school gave a presentation on their work at the Fort Thomas Independent Schools board meeting.
Leader in Me is a student empowerment and leadership framework adapted for education from concepts first developed by Stephen R. Covey and outlined in his well-known book on leadership and productivity, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
The program fits well alongside the district’s Portrait of a Graduate framework, sharing some of the same principles of student leadership and responsibility.
Moyer Principal Dawn Laber explained, as the first year, the school started with the teachers, forming a "Lighthouse Leaders" team to explore ideas on how to integrate the initiative into the school. From this they moved forward with action teams for each idea. Next year, students will be invited onto the leadership teams.
The Lighthouse Leaders identified a number of duties around the school in which students could take charge. Moyer students in all grades are involved, with duties rotated within grades levels or throughout the entire school. The duties empower students, not only to practice general leadership skills, but also to hone key Leader in Me habits. The students learn and practice a new habit each month.
Laber introduced presenters representing different areas of school leadership across the school.
Morning announcementsStudents in kindergarten have taken over responsibility for schoolwide morning announcements. When asked what they liked best about giving the announcements, presenters said they liked that "everybody has a turn" and they "got to talk to the whole school."
Laber said she was glad to give up the duty herself and the students were happy taking over. It’s a win-win — one of the key habits in Leader in Me.
Lost and FoundLost and Found is now the responsibility of second graders. Presenters explained what they do:
"We have over 540 kids at Moyer...We can lose a lot of stuff, so we have a large Lost and Found area in the cafeteria. The second grade Lost and Found Club sorts and organizes all the items that we find...Items that are left at the end of the quarter get donated to Goodwill. We are glad to help out students and parents because we know coats and shirts can be expensive. We encourage students to put their names inside their items."
Laber said she and teachers would sort through the items when they had time, but the large amount in the school was getting out of hand. Having the students step in and take responsibility has been a bonus to the entire school.
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Hallway LeadersStudents in upper grades have taken on the responsibility of greeting their classmates each day and making everyone feel welcome at the school.
"We used to have just a high five Friday, and the kids in older grades wanted to do something every day...They go to stations all around the building. They give people high fives and tell them good morning and give hugs if they are needed and get help if it’s needed," Laber explained.
"As Hallway Leaders we try to make as many people happy as we can. We want to make sure people are doing what they are supposed to do, but we greet them, too. We want to start the day on a high note," said one student.
"What I like about being a Hallway Leader is that you get to meet lots of new people and people that you already know. If when they arrive they get a wave or a smile, it can make their day better. And when they give you a high five or smile back it makes you happy, too," another added.
Habit HelpersStudents are encouraged to practice the habits they learn at home as well as at school. Each week students take home a paper to help them keep track of how they practice the month's habit at home.
"If you do the habit at home, you mark the day you have done it,” explained a student. "When you have done it for a week, you bring the paper back to school. You earn Mustang Money for completing it. Mustang Money earns you prizes...Third graders are taking a leadership role by collecting the papers and handing out the Mustang Money. They collect on all three floors. The job rotates so all students get to help."
Recycling CrewFifth graders at Moyer have taken responsibility for making sure recycling is collected. Each quarter six students are chosen to be a part of the Recycling Crew. On Mondays, crew members collect all the recycling from the classrooms and stack it in the cafeteria for school staff to take outside.
The students explained why they felt recycling was so important at their school. "Recycling helps the environment. It helps save energy and reduces greenhouse gases which helps to tackle climate change...Recycling also saves money, energy and reduces pollution," said one crew member.
"I think this is a good leadership role. I think that because other students may get encouraged to recycle. I am proud to be a part of the recycling crew...This is a chance for us to take care of our school."
The principal noted that it was students who made sure recycling was happening at the school. After the new building opened two years ago, they approached the school counselor to ask if it was happening and this spurred the counselor and the teachers to ensure the recycling program was up and running.
Next stepsEach month the school has a "Mustang Roundup" where they celebrate the successes of the previous month and introduce a new Leader in Me habit, said Laber. These have been run by teachers, but is moving toward a student-led assembly.
School board members congratulated students on their presentation and gave out t-shirts. Presenters were Cole Dempsey, Lilly Donelan, Cate Fischer, Lydia Freppon, Geneva Hill, Kamali Karthikeyan, Beatrice Landon, Mia Marshall, Greta Niese and Edie Twehues.
Leader in Me has been in place at Woodfill Elementary for three years. In addition to Moyer, Highlands Middle School initiated the program this school year. The program has not been instituted districtwide, leaving each school community to decide if it fits their needs and how it will be implemented within each school.