Students at Stettler Elementary School are learning the finer points of leadership as they move through their educational journey.
“We are a ‘Leader in Me’ school, so all of our staff has been trained in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (written by Steven Covey)’,” explained Sharon Fischer, principal of Stettler Elementary. For the kids, the material from that best-selling book has been adapted to suit a younger age group, but the principles are precisely the same.
“Right from Kindergarten on, our students are learning about being in charge of their own behaviours, their own actions, and about being pro-active,” she said. “The whole notion is of, ‘things aren’t always going to be perfect, but what I can change is how I respond to it’.
“We’ve been a Leader in Me school for six or seven years now. And essentially, every student has leadership skills and that’s what we are trying to find in them – giving them opportunities from starting up clubs that they would like to run and organize, or we also have Milk Program leaders. We also have leaders who help supervise the younger ones on the playground – but now they have the ‘leader’ title,” she explained. “And in most cases, the students really step up to the plate and take on those leadership roles.”
The Seven Habits are studied in class, but as Fischer pointed out, the concepts are over-arching in virtually everything that the students do from day to day.
She said that in tandem with the year-long focus on developing the effective habits, the students and staff also host a Leadership Day. This year, this special event runs on March 25th and the whole community is invited to drop by to catch up with the students and see both what is new and also how this leadership training is making an impact.
“At the Leadership Day on March 25th we will have some students serve as tour guides. We will also have our Kindergarten students work as greeters,” she said. Visitors will also hear a bit about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and how the students are applying those principles in a range of practical ways.
“This year, we also have video clips of former students who have gone on to do some really cool things, and we will see how they have used the seven habits since they’ve moved on from Stettler Elementary,” she said.
“It’s also open to all community members. We want our parents there for sure, but we also are inviting businesses and principals from other schools, too. It’s also open to the entire community to come and see what our kids are doing.”
Doors open at 1:30 p.m. with the assembly slated to start at 1:45 p.m. “After that, they can go check out the classrooms – it’s like an open house. We also tie in our student-led conferences to that, too, so then parents can sit down with their child and go through their leadership notebooks. They will see examples of the (students’) work and goals they have set.
“Lots of classes will also have the parents and students set a goal together from now until the end of the year, and think about how they will achieve that,” she explained. “Any of the community members here can also go to any of the classrooms, too. Students will showcase what they are doing and also show their leadership binders to them as well.”
Ultimately, Fischer said it’s easy to see the positive impact that the Leader in Me training is having on the youngsters.
“Our hope is that they are going to leave here, go onto secondary schooling and then out into the world with an ‘I can’ attitude. ‘I am in charge of how I look at the world and how I respond to the world’.
“And that working together with other people will have a much better outcome then working against them.”
Fischer said it’s been wonderful to see the program so enthusiastically embraced by students, staff and families, too.
“We’ve been really blessed by having the most amazing parents in the world,” she noted of the support that comes from the students’ families as well. “It’s been incredible for us to have such supportive families.”
For Fischer and her staff, seeing the changes take place in these young lives from lessons learned via being a Leader in Me school is rewarding in and of itself.
“It’s building their confidence, and that’s what we are going for.”