THE LEADER IN ME written by Rebecca Knowles
What does an effective education look like in today’s society? For generations we have been steeped in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Our children sit in rows of desks, looking at books, none of which have changed all that much since we were in school 10, 30, or 50 years ago. Many of us ask, “Does this approach to education really prepare our students for the demands of the ever-changing workplace? Does banning the use of cell phones and electronic devices in class help students when they get to the “real world,” where colleagues collaborate on Google docs in committee meetings?” No, of course not. As a community, we need to start truly seeking meaningful changes to our educational system so we can ensure our students have the tools they need to excel in the world beyond the classroom’s walls. Graduates need to be able to communicate, think critically, work well with others, multitask, and take initiative. They need to know how to thrive in an ever-changing workplace. One way some schools are addressing these needs is by employing Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in schools and classrooms. In 2008, the people at Franklin Covey published The Leader in Me, a book that, as the cover says, details “how schools around the world are inspiring greatness, one child at a time.” The premise is simple: integrate the 7 Habits into your school’s culture and daily lessons, identify and encourage the potential within each student, and help the students develop that potential into greatness. Many adults are familiar with Covey’s 7 Habits. We’ve read the book and have been to the seminar. Some of us have even worked to incorporate these habits into our lives. But teaching them to children? How could a kindergartner possibly understand something with which the VP of a Fortune 500 Company struggles? The Leader in Me gives teachers the tools and strategies they need to make the Habits accessible to students of all ages. And students are embracing them in ways that are expressed through writing songs, creating murals, and living the Habits. Nationally, there are 2,375 Leader in Me schools. Here in Polk County, there are two schools participating. Polk Avenue Elementary, a Lake Wales Charter School, began the program in 2009. This year, All Saints Academy, a private school that borders Lakeland and Winter Haven, is in the first year of the process. The first Leader in Me year focuses on learning the 7 Habits, incorporating them into the culture of the school, and working on ways to pull more students into leadership roles. The Franklin-Covey trainer working with All Saints, Loni Moore, has said that the Leader in Me process is “Crock-pot, not microwave,” meaning the roll-out is done slowly and intentionally, to ensure success over the long-term. Of the 2,375 LIM schools, 158 are currently recognized as Lighthouse Schools, meaning that they have achieved an advanced level of successful implementation and are model schools. Harmony Community School, in St. Cloud, and English Estates Elementary, just outside of Orlando, are the closest Lighthouse Schools to Polk County. Leader in Me schools welcome inquiry and visitors interested in learning about their transformation. There will also be a Leader in Me symposium in Orlando in January, where educators and the public can learn more about the process through workshops, speakers, and site visits to LIM schools. Today, graduates enter a vastly different world from when our current educational model was conceived. Businesses want employees who can think creatively, make decisions, work with others, and lead. Leader in Me is one way some schools are successfully preparing students to fill those needs. For more information, visit theleaderinme.org.
116 THE LAKELANDER
ABOUT REBECCA KNOWLES Rebecca moved to Lakeland when she was two and is a graduate of Lakeland High School. After earning a BA in psychology from Atlanta’s Agnes Scott College, she returned to Lakeland and taught English at her high school alma mater for several years. She is currently the director of the Center for Learning and Community Engagement at All Saints Academy, where she is responsible for developing partnerships within the community and innovative learning opportunities for students. Rebecca enjoys travel, sushi, and — most importantly — spending time with her husband, Brian; children Clayton (7) and Alison (3); and parents, Bobby and Diane Baum.
Bohemian Farmhouse / Standing for Hope / Space Ghost Pie / The Taste of Tradition / Holloway Park