Clear Creek ISD teachers, students boast success of The Leader in Me program

The Leader in Me program continues to expand in Clear Creek ISD, and students, teachers and staff have lauded the program as it enters its fourth year.

The Leader in Me is an optional framework that teaches students leadership skills beyond academic requirements. Students learn seven habits to become highly effective people and apply those habits to becoming proactive leaders at school and at home, Space Center Intermediate Principal Ann Hill Thornton said.

Space Center Intermediate is one school that implemented The Leader in Me into student life during the 2018-19 school year. The intermediate school is fed by six elementary schools, including Falcon Pass Elementary School, the first school to adopt The Leader in Me.

Thornton, who left Falcon Pass as associate principal the year The Leader in Me was implemented, noticed students who had The Leader in Me curriculum interacted with students and teachers in different ways. She decided the school would benefit from the program, and The Leader in Me was adopted for the 2018-19 school year, she said.

After a year of the program, students and teachers are noticing positive differences.

Space Center Intermediate student Nathan Guerra said he has used the habits he has learned to discipline himself into getting homework and chores done before taking the time to play video games or hang out with friends.

“[My peers] learn how to seek solutions to problems and use their time wisely,” he said of the program.

Another student, Victoria Pino Ospedales, said The Leader in Me helped her break out of her shell and gain the confidence to speak in public. She recently led an event that she never would have considered leading without the skills The Leader in Me taught her, Thornton said.

Space Center Intermediate teacher Rebecca Quinlan said her students used one of the habits, “think win-win,” to convince her to turn a solo assignment into a group project. The mutual win was students would be able to work with partners, and Quinlan would have fewer projects to grade, she said.

The Leader in Me teaches students to use the same vocabulary. Students use and speak aloud the habits they apply to given situations, which allows them to work through issues collaboratively and from a similar mindset, Quinlan and Thornton said.

“I really love that common vocab and the leadership they have,” Quinlan said.

At schools with The Leader in Me, students can apply online for certain roles they think they might be able to take on. Instead of teachers assigning responsibilities, such as organizing events or dances, to the same takers, a wider range of students can express interest in the assignments they are interested in. The result is students who were not thought of as leaders are asking for leadership roles, Thornton said.

Space Center Intermediate has a daily advisory time when students could catch up on work, but now students use the time to teach lessons related to the habits to their peers, she said.

“We found the more the students lead, the more others listen to it,” Thornton said.

Adopting The Leader in Me at a school starts with the teachers. FranklinCovey, the company that implements the program, will train teachers with the seven habits, and they model the habits and pass them onto students, Thornton said.

“It’s really important to start within,” she said. “You can’t teach someone else something if you don’t know how it works.”

It takes three years to fully implement The Leader in Me at a campus. It costs about $21,000 the first year and $16,000 for the following two years. Community partners, such as various cities and Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital, have donated money to help fund implementation.

The Leader in Me started at Falcon Pass Elementary School and expanded to Armand Bayou Elementary, Bay Elementary, McWhirter Elementary, Whitcomb Elementary and Space Center Intermediate. Several other campuses plan to adopt the program this school year.
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By Jake Magee

Jake Magee has been a print journalist for a few years, covering topics such as city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be an editor with Community Impact. In his free time, Magee enjoys playing video games, jamming on the drums and bass, longboarding and petting his cat.

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