• Discovering "The Leader in Me"

  • Macrae Murphy thinks it’s cool for the students at Indian Trails Elementary to have such a leadership role within their school community.

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  • Macrae Murphy thinks it’s cool for the students at Indian Trails Elementary to have such a leadership role within their school community.
    “At first, I don’t think we knew what it meant to be a part of something like this,” said the fourth grader at the Fort Osage elementary school. “I like leadership. It’s good for people. These are the things we will use when we grow up.”
    This is the first year that Indian Trails has participated in the Leader in Me program. The program is a whole-school model that improves the performance of all other programs within the school community. Based on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey, the Leader in Me program allows students to take ownership of their school, gaining skills they will need to thrive in society as they get older.
    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 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, Change of Attitude and Sharpen the Saw.
    The program started in 1999 when A.B. Combs Elementary in North Carolina was asked to reinvent itself or face closure. After feedback from parents and community members, the school staff felt like the focus should not be only improving academics and test scores, but also on allowing students to reach their full potential. Now implemented in more than 1,000 schools throughout the world, the Leader in me program is showing that students are becoming more engaged in their school and that they are gaining self-confidence, creativity, leadership and communication skills, among many others.
    Area schools that participate in the Leader in Me program are Grain Valley South Middle School and William Yates Elementary in the Blue Springs School District.
    “It’s powerful,” said Susie Phillips, art teacher at Indian Trails of the Leader in Me program. “We started the year teaching the 7 Habits and really embedded it into all of the lesson plans. What excites me is to see the kids excited. They are empowered.”
    Every student at Indian trails has a chance to take on some type of leadership role through the Leader in Me Program. This includes Art Leaders, Teacher Leaders and Spirit Leaders, among others. There is also a monthly assembly that is completely run by students. Those students selected as Speaking Leaders rehearse with prepared scripts and then run the assembly from start to finish. It is at these assemblies that other students in the school are recognized for their accomplishments during the last month.
    “It is like shaping the school your way,” said Mason Ekstrand, an Indian Trails fourth grader, of the program. “To me, it feels amazing to be able to take on leadership roles like this. It is really a great experience.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Principal Emily Cross said the school staff have always worked to incorporate life skills into the classroom, but that they did not go far enough. She said through the Leader in Me program, students are connecting how their efforts impact their success.
    “They have truly exceeded our expectations,” she said. “Our students own their own data and progress. They are confident, and it is amazing to see you the kiddos are leading groups throughout the day.”
    Every student seems to have their favorite habit to work on throughout the day, and Mason is no different.
    “I like thinking with the end in mind,” he said. “I like setting goals, and I like having the ability to reach those goals. Setting goals means you are more likely to reach them, and that is really awesome.”

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