OES kicks off ‘Leader in Me’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2016

Opp Elementary School teachers are embarking on a journey to make their school a better place to be.

The teachers kicked off The Leader In Me, a program based on the best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

OES Counselor Samantha Russell said Friday was the kick off for the program.

“We did the book study,” she said. “And we’ll do the 7 Habits training in June.”

On Friday, Connley Skeen was on hand at OES to introduce the teachers and staff to The Leader in Me.

Skeen told the teachers that mindset is critical.

As a team building exercise, Skeen had the teachers to introduce themselves to another teacher as they were three years ago and then as they would like to be in three years.

“Did you think three years ago you’d be where you are?” he asked. “The painful reality to that question is: why wouldn’t you know?”

Skeen challenged teachers to think of five words that describe leadership.

Teachers came up with: responsible, organized, flexible, wise, dependable, compassionate, positive and approachable.

“That’s why we’re in this business,” he said. “It’s not for the chauffeurs.”

Skeen challenged teachers to not make their classrooms one-size fits all.

“Leadership is a choice, not a position,” he said. “Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it themselves.”

Skeen likened being a teacher to growing a tomato garden.

He said you have to have seeds, water, soil and sun.

He compared common paradigms to Leader in Me and Lead paradigms.

Common paradigms say that leadership is for the few, while the Leader in Me says everyone can be a leader.

Common paradigms would say that a few people are gift, while Leader in Me says that everyone has genius.

Usual models say that to improve schools, the system needs to change first, but leader in me says that change starts with me.

Common theories say that educators control and direct student learning, while Leader in Me says educators empower students to lead their own learning.

Common teachers focuses solely on academic achievement, while Leader in Me teachers help develop the whole person.

“We have to get to the cornerstone and be accepting of each other,” Skeen said.

Skeen said that teachers like students who are like nice rows of tomatoes, but when you have squash, they grow everywhere.

“If you have a couple of squash it can be frustrating,” he said. “You have choices, you can treat everyone like a tomato or you can empower them to be the best squash ever.”

Skeen said that children have genius, but adults often degenius them.

There are currently 2,535 schools in the Leader in Me process.

According to the Leader In Me website, the school implementation process is a multi-year process.

In year one, all staff participates in building the plan and familiarizing themselves with the program.

In year two, they aligning academics, train new staff and work on sustaining the plan.

In year 3, teachers concentrate on empowering the instruction, and train new staff.

Assistant Superintendent Emily Edgar, who said she is excited about the program, said the system is funding the program through federal Title I school improvement funds.

OES is the second school in Covington County to implement this program. Andalusia Elementary is already implemening the program.