BCLUW Elementary developing future leaders through Leader in Me Program

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Members of the BCLUW elementary Leader in Me Lighthouse Team include (not in order of appearance): Gabby Stotts, Eden Ladehoff, Maycee Stolzman, Madden Helms, Beau Towne, Parker Bergman, Ceanna White and Julianne Brown. These students serve as the elementary version of a "student council."

CONRAD – Now in their second official year, the staff and students at BCLUW Elementary School have found a way of developing leaders by participating in a program called “The Leader in Me” and by being recognized as a Leader in Me school.

Kindergarten teacher Tiffanie Nederhoff is the Leader in Me program coordinator at BCLUW. She said interest in the program began four years ago, but the first two years were spent with teachers meeting to come up with activities to make things better for student learning.

“Our first official year was last year and the program has continued to grow this school year as we use the program now to teach soft skills that we all need to be successful in life and to be leaders,” Nederhoff said. “Through the program the students learn that everyone can be a leader and have a voice in their school.”

Leader in Me started with one school in North Carolina and has since grown to thousands of schools in over 80 countries throughout the world. It is a whole-school transformation model and process developed in partnership with educators that empowers students with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. It is based on principles and practices of personal, interpersonal and organizational effectiveness, and upon the powerful premise that every child possesses unique strengths and has the ability to be a leader.

Leader in Me differs from other whole-school transformation processes in that it offers a holistic, school-wide experience for staff, students and parents, and creates a common language and culture within the school. The leadership principles and lessons are not taught as a curriculum but instead are incorporated into coursework, traditions, systems and culture.

T-R PHOTO BY CHUCK FRIEND - This banner hanging inside the front entrance of the BCLUW Elementary School in Conrad proudly proclaims that BCLUW is recognized as a Leader in Me School.

Neiderhoff said that every student is given a Leader in Me T-Shirt at the beginning of the year that they wear to assemblies and other events throughout the year – such as the upcoming Leadership Day that is planned on Thursday for parents and other special invited guests.

This year’s leadership day will include learning about the BCLUW school-wide leadership jobs and celebrating the students through a school wide assembly. Attendees will also learn about the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” (as developed by Steven Covey), by visiting the individual classrooms. The morning will conclude by eating a sack lunch with the invited guests.

Nederhoff said the motto for the Leader in Me program at BCLUW is “Learn Together — Grow Together – Lead Together,” which is said aloud at the beginning of each day. The students also recite the Comet Leader Pledge which states: “I pledge to be a leader. I will work hard every day to follow the 7 Habits and do things the right way by using the 7 Habits. I will be the best I can be. I pledge to take the journey to find the Comet Leader in me.”

She said BCLUW students apply for 15 quarterly leader jobs and/or the Lighthouse Team (which is like student council for the elementary). The members of each leader job changes quarterly and are selected by the teacher’s action committee from the applications. The lighthouse team members are chosen by Principal Mitch Parker and the teacher’s action team.

BCLUW leader jobs include:

• Equipment Managers (make sure recess equipment is put away)

• Tech Squad (plug in and unplug iPads and keep them clean)

• Information Leaders (pass out teacher and bus notes to students)

• Recycle Leaders (once a week gather the recycling materials around the school)

• Public Speakers (read daily announcements)

• Greeters (greet students as they arrive every morning)

• Flag Officers (put up flag and take down and fold flag at end of day)

• Interior Design (do decorating for assemblies and programing)

• Assembly Team (lead monthly assemblies)

• Building and Grounds (pick up trash in hallways and bathrooms)

• Hallway Monitors (monitor hallways to see that students are not running and help get kindergarten students around the school)

• Hallway Helpers (help clean up hallways)

• Photographers (take photos at assemblies or events)

• Comet News (do live computer broadcasts weekly of news around the school)

• Comet Cheerleaders (cheer when a classroom has perfect attendance and at each monthly assembly)

Each year a coach from the Leader in Me program comes and meets with the staff and lighthouse team to explain the program and help with goal setting, Nederhoff said.

When asked about being on the lighthouse team one of the students said, “It is the only team that is there for the entire school year and gives you a chance to think about others and not just yourself.” Others chimed in by saying that they like being on the lighthouse team “because we get to help the school and plan events, all while developing character and the ability to always do the right thing.”

What is Leader in Me?

The Leader in Me program helps students learn how to become self-reliant, take initiative, plan ahead, set and track goals, do their homework, prioritize their time, manage their emotions, be considerate of others, express their viewpoint persuasively, resolve conflicts, find creative solutions, value differences and live a balanced life. The process helps students develop the skills and self-confidence they need to lead their lives and succeed in school and beyond.

Training on establishing a vision for the school, goal setting, data tracking and personal accountability systems is included in the process and is aligned with best-in-class content and concepts practiced by global education thought leaders. The program provides a logical, sequential and balanced process to help schools proactively design a culture that reflects their vision of their ideal school.

Tiffanie Nederhoff, BCLUW’s Leader in Me coordinator said the program is based on the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” as developed by Steven Covey.

Those habits are presented in a series of monthly assemblies for the entire elementary staff and students and are student led. They are:

Habit 1: Be proactive (you’re in charge)

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind (have a plan)

Habit 3: Put first things first (work first, then play)

Habit 4: Think win-win (everyone can win)

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood (listen before you talk)

Habit 6: Synergize (together is better)

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw (balance feels best)

Nederhoff said that at BCLUW they added an eighth habit which is “find your voice.” This tells students to find what they are passionate about and then follow that passion, she said.

The basis for the program is summed up in this quote from author and program originator Steven Covey: “Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”