Waller Elementary Cultivates Young Leaders with "A Leader in Me"

Youngstown - You've probably heard of the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." It's a famous book by Stephen Covey that outlines the path to success by taking personal responsibility. Here is a look at those habits: One: Be proactive. Two: Begin with the end in mind. Three: Put first things first. Four: Think win-win, what is mutually beneficial? Five: Seek first to understand, then be understood. Six: Synergize, or combine strengths. And Habit Seven: Sharpen the saw, which means to maintain balance in your life.

But these habits aren't just for adults. A Bay County elementary school is using Title One funding to implement a program called "A Leader In Me." They are creating a culture of leadership that teachers and administrators hope will lead to higher student achievement.

You see them in every classroom and every hallway, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Waller Elementary School in Youngstown is using those principles to raise up young leaders. Fifth grader Kara Kruger is proof students are catching on fast. "You help others and then they get to know how to be a leader and it passes on," said Kara.

Murals, mission statements, even chants, reinforce the message: I am responsible for myself and my own success. "We have taken the vocabulary, the language of the Seven Habits and imbedded it into our curriculum. We haven't changed the curriculum, it's just the language that we are using to be proactive. Habit One is to be proactive, make your choice, what you want in life, then we move onto the other six," said Principal Peggy Bunch.

Waller is a Title One school, between 85 and 90% of the students come from families at or below the poverty line. While the challenges are many, the potential is great. "We were 6 points away from being a "B" school, we are a "C" school, we are in that DA status in the state. Six points. We can do this, our kids can do this," said Principal Bunch.

School started just a few weeks ago, but teachers are already seeing results. "Since implementing the Seven Habits I've seen a big difference in the students, they are taking more responsibility for their actions. I've seen a difference in their behavior and their work habits," said third grade teacher Chrissie York. Habits that teachers and administrators trust will lead to higher student achievement and future success.

Waller Elementary School is the first in Bay County to implement this specific program.


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