WATERVILLE - It is encouraging to see schools in North Central Washington finding creative ways to engage students. One of the efforts I've been tracking is the "Leader in Me" program at Waterville School, which is having quite an impact on students, teachers and the community.
The program teaches the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, developed by Stephen Covey. A few weeks ago, they held a leadership day at the school and invited teachers and administrators from other school districts plus community members and business leaders to get acquainted with how this program is impact education.
These kids are taking responsibility for their own education by setting goals, tracking their progress, asking for support from teachers and their families. The results are impressive. The enthusiasm of the teachers and parents was readily apparent but the real proof was in listening to a panel of students ranging from Kindergarten to high school seniors.
These students were engaged, articulate, focused and confident. It's what happens when you start with the premise that every child and every person can lead rather than the mantle of leadership falling to a few in select positions.
Parent Kimberly Gormley posted her reactions on Facebook after the event. She wrote:
This is such a BIG DEAL.... I wish I could describe it better. It overwhelms my heart with pride so much that it comes out my eyes as tears. I teared up TWICE during the presentation.... We have children in our school who are not afraid to stand up in front of 90 strangers and tell them all about 'Leader in Me.'"
Then she wrote about what the program was instilling in the students at Waterville:
"It's about doing the right (thing) when no one is watching and if you don't do the right thing, owning up to the fact and making it right. It's about understanding your fellow classmates. It's about listening before you act. It's about every day life decisions."
We need to focus on these success stories and build on the lessons they can teach us. Teaching leadership as the 'operating system' in school has energized the Waterville School District and helped students take the initiative in school and in life.
This shows we can create great schools without legislative mandates and meddling. All we need is the will to create a new future.
If you want to be inspired about education, make a beeline to this community.