ACS to launch leadership program

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A group of Andalusia Elementary School teachers have seen what they hope is their future, and they liked it, very much.

Andalusia Elementary School teachers Angie Cofield, Ashley Black, Stephanie Pearce, Julie Hardy and Lindsey Cross recently visited several schools, including one that has implemented The Leader in Me, a program based on the best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

They shared stories from teachers who had had no discipline referrals because their students have learned to mediate their own conflicts, stories of a school where each grade level completed a service project. And stories of being given tours by confident elementary students who shook their hands, served as tour guides, and did so without the supervision of teachers.

With a little financial help from friends, Andalusia City Schools in 2014-15 will join 1,624 schools across the globe that have embraced The Leader in Me. Schools have reported results such as higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems, and increased engagement among teachers and parents.

Superintendent Ted Watson said the idea or pursuing a program like this one was born in a school leadership retreat held last year in which Mayor Earl Johnson suggested implementing a Big Brother Big Sister mentoring program.

But Watson said potential liabilities with that program convinced system leaders to look at other ideas, and this one caught on.

According, in the first year, schools engage their entire staff in a shared vision of the greatness and leadership that are inherent in every child and adult.

The program begins with a book study, Watson said.

In the second year, according to the web site, schools build on the foundation established in year one and learn to apply the 7 Habits and leadership concepts at a higher order. By the third year, schools are defining their unique signature and maximizing results.

Among the goals of the program listed by the teachers in their Monday night presentation were:

• Students take more responsibility

• Students show initiative

• Creativity shows

• Students become goal setters

• Students work with a variety of people

• Students resolve their own conflicts


Watson said the school system is partnering with the City of Andalusia and the Troy University Regional Inservice Center to implement The Leader in Me.

“We started out as several people independently thinking about, being concerned about the community,” Watson said. “It was as simple as wanting to teach kids how to shake hands, and see eye to eye.

“I personally think we can change this community if everybody gets on board with this,” Watson said. “Going slower is better, so a book study is where it all starts.”

He also challenged board members to complete the book study with students and teachers.