Golden schools bringing in Leader in Me

What started as a casual conversation between two friends has expanded to include administrators and educators from three Golden schools.

What started as a casual conversation between two friends has expanded to include administrators and educators from three Golden schools, as well as an international organization that helps build the leaders of tomorrow.

“It started as a conversation between Greg Ehman and myself, and he was telling me about this Leader in Me program that his kids’ school had in Comox,” said local parent Lori Baxendale. “I thought it would be so great if we could bring that program to Golden.”

The Leader in Me framework, which gets incorporated into the regular school curriculum, originates from Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and gives students the learning skills to enable them to reach a higher level of performance.

“It all started when the principal of a school in the United States, who was facing closure for a number of reasons, started applying the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at her school,” said Baxendale. “The school didn’t end up closing, and now it’s thriving.”

This leadership framework has now gone worldwide, and more than 200 schools in Canada are Leader in Me schools. Only four of those schools, however, are in British Columbia.

Baxendale and Ehman started the ball rolling, and spoke to the administrators at Alexander Park Elementary, Nicholson Elementary, and Lady Grey Elementary. After a year of discussion with school staff and the Leader in Me organization, all three schools are on board to get the training, and become Leader in Me schools.

“This is such an amazing thing for our community,” said Baxendale. “We are nearly doubling the number of Leader in Me schools in the province. The students at these schools are going to get such strong skills from this program, and they are going to carry them forever, whether they stay in Golden or move onto somewhere else.”

The project was kept quiet for the first year to make sure the teachers wanted this program (which requires training from the Leader in Me organization), and that the Golden schools would be good candidates.

“I talked to other administrators and teachers and we did some research. I attended the first Canadian Leader in Me symposium in Edmonton with the other two elementary principals in Golden and we talked to our staffs in Golden about what we were finding out.  What I have learned is that it has had excellent results in the schools that have adopted it and it embodies many elements that I believe are important,” said Janne Arlt, principal at LGES.

“It has also been shown to transfer beyond the classroom to home and family life. The Leader in Me also fits with current trends in education regarding personalized learning, student self-regulation, global citizenship and balanced, healthy lifestyles.”

With all three schools on board, the steering committee (which Baxendale and Ehman are a part of) now has the task of raising the funds for the training. The training, which is spaced over three years, will be given to all school staff by Leader in Me teachers who will come to Golden.

They are currently pursuing grants from multiple locations, including the Columbia Basin Trust.

“The CBT has been really supportive. And the Rotary Club of Golden is also choosing Leader in Me as the recipient for funds raised at their annual gala in April,” said Baxendale.

The first round of training workshops will begin in August of 2014, and the skills the staff learn there will be incorporated into the schools right away.

“There is much interest and commitment by many staff members, which was the reason for the decision to move forward with it,” said Arlt. “Our hope is that we would be providing the students with some tools to be successful far beyond their years with us.”

Information on what in means to be a Leader in Me school has now been sent out to the parents. Anyone interested in learning more can go to www.theleaderinme.org.