The Leader in Me program coming to Lake Myra

amoody@newsobserver.comJuly 2, 2013 

Students (from left) Candice Schwab, Diego Vega- Amador, Jaden Davis and Jennifer Para-Mejia participate in a hands-on math class at Lake Myra Elementary School in Wendell in May.

COREY LOWENSTEIN — clowenst@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Students will notice a heightened emphasis on leadership when they funnel into Lake Myra Elementary School for the fall school track.

The year-round school was awarded a two-year grant last month to begin The Leader in Me process, a school transformation model based on Stephen R. Covey’s book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.’

The application of the book in the classroom was the brainchild of Muriel Summers, principal at A. B. Combs Elementary in Raleigh. Summers used the model to reshape her school from one on the brink of closing down in 1999 to the top magnet school in the country in 2006.

The Wendell school isn’t in choppy waters like Combs was years ago. But The Leader in Me program isn’t designed only for schools with their backs against the wall, according to Lake Myra Principal Jim Argent. He said the model, which was recommended to Lake Myra by the Wake Education Partnership, fills voids in existing curriculum to create a more well-rounded education for the young students.

“The Common Core standards do a great job taking care of the core curriculum for our students, but there’s that unwritten curriculum,” Argent said. “If you think about what a school’s job is, we can prepare (students) academically, but we also have to be able to prepare them for other life skills that aren’t in any written curriculum. We wanted to build some structure around that.”

The seven maxims of the program are Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand – Then to be Understood, Synergize and Sharpen the Saw.

Those principles will be applied on top of the students’ normal school work, but not in a way that learning becomes overwhelming.

“When you do things like this, a program is doomed to failure if you try to do it in isolation,” Argent said. “What you have to do is weave this into daily practices.”

The grant pays for almost $50,000 worth of posters and handbooks for students and training for teachers in the first year. It pays slightly less in the second year, when less training will be needed. Both students and teachers will also have access to online portals for training.

Argent said the school will look to several indicators to track the success of the program.

“It’s not only academic achievement improvement, but also looking at our discipline referrals, the amount of students participating in extracurricular activities,” he said. “We’re going to look at a lot of metrics that will help us measure if we’re being successful, but it’s its really about if we’re impacting student learning.”

Lake Myra will join Green Elementary in Raleigh in incorporating The Leader in Me for the first time this fall. They will be the second and third Wake County elementary schools to use the process alongside Combs Elementary.

“As a school community, we’re thrilled,” Argent said. “We’ve already started doing some of the practices and implementing it this year. We really think it’s in the best interest of kids.”

Moody: 919-829-4806

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