Three more Palliser schools join Leader in Me program

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Students and staff got wet during team activities at Champion School in connection with the Leader in Me program.

The childhood game of Follow the Leader just got a little more confusing at Champion School.

The school is among a growing number across the world to embrace the Leader in Me program, which creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader.

Champion is among three Palliser Regional Schools to begin the journey towards leadership development this year. The Leader in Me is based on the “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” – among them, “Think Win-Win.”

Champion Principal Jody Beagle says it’s more like “win-win-win” when students grasp the leadership and life skills messages which fit so well with the school’s safe and caring goals.

“I think we will see more student-led things happening in the school, so teachers will also benefit from it greatly,” she says. “And parents will benefit from it because they won’t be begging their kids all the time to do things.”

Beagle doesn’t need to look far for any testimonials about the Leader In Me, which has spread to more than 2,000 schools in some 35 countries since it was launched in 2009. She witnessed its benefits first-hand in her previous assignments at Vulcan Prairieview Elementary and Arrowwood School. Coalhurst Elementary also launched the program earlier.

This year saw Jennie Emery Elementary School in Coaldale and Sunnyside School near Lethbridge join Champion in the program. Jennie Emery Elementary School and Sunnyside School also introduced the Leader in Me this school year.

When students are able to interact appropriately, make decisions that are good for them and step up and accept greater responsibilities Beagle says school staff can spend less time setting up rules and dealing with negative behaviour and more time teaching.

Champion teacher received their training at the end of last school year and over the summer and the next step will be to bring support staff up to speed on the “Seven Habits” – which include “Begin with the End in Mind” and “Sharpen the Saw.”

The students were eager to grasp the concepts too.

Beagle stood on the stage and had the students stand up and go through the Leader in Me vocabulary and the corresponding hand actions.

“It was so cool because there was not one child in our whole school who was too cool to do it,” she says. “I think that shows the program is really going to be effective here.”

The Champion students were earlier divided into teams, which will tackle activities to help them understand each habit in greater depth. Beagle says children learn better from one another and it won’t be long before students will call each other out if they witness inappropriate behaviour.

“It’s an interesting transition as the kids start to take the lead, the teachers have to learn to let go. We are trained to lead and that’s an interesting and challenging change and shift,” says Beagle.

Parents can certainly do their part to help, starting with using the same language as school staff. Champion School is in the process of purchasing a Leader in Me parent handbook, which outlines each habit and provides examples of what they can do at home to reinforce it.

Beagle is confident the Leader in Me program will have tangible results.

“I think it’s going to come home loud and clear through our accountability pillars. We’ll see it through their playground behaviour and what we see in the hallways,” she says. “I think we are going to see it and feel it as a school culture.”