Salisbury Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY EMILY THIEL PRESS PHOTO BY EMILY THIEL "The Leader In Me" by Stephen Covey, is being implemented in the elementary schools this year, teaching the students the seven traits of leaders.

Elementary students learn the traits of leaders

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 by EMILY THIEL Special to The Press in School

Elementary students in Salisbury are rising to the challenge of becoming leaders within their schools, being proactive and beginning tasks with the end in mind. The 2012 -2013 school year is the first year "The Leader In Me" by Stephen Covey is being implemented within the schools, which helps students establish principles and independence.

Covey is also the author of the number one bestseller, "7 Habits of Highly Successful People."

"The Leader In Me" is focused on inspiring greatness within children, one child at a time.

The seven traits are: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand, then to be understood, synergies and sharpen the saw.

Harry S Truman and Western Salisbury Elementary are both participating in the implementation. The book is more than a program, as it focuses on using and understanding common language to produce a foundation for a lifetime of leadership. Even this early in the year, teachers and principals are seeing their students respond to the language and improve their confidence.

Teachers were trained during August on how to implement the traits within their classrooms. A core group of teachers have also been trained to teach the seven traits to new staff.

In the book, the traits are set up on a tree. Elementary teachers were creative on how to represent the trait tree in their rooms. There are trees in every classroom, as the entire school must be on board with the program in order to see progress.

The base of the trait tree focuses on self improvement and being proactive in situations. The second set of traits focuses on working with others. In the principal's newsletter, HST Principal Barbara Samide made a PDF document of the trait tree for parents to reference and print.

It takes three years for the implementation to take full effect within the schools.

The traits teach the students to use habits that will allow them to be successful in the future.

"We have to understand to share them with the children," Samide said.

Restoring yourself is a key trait within the "Leader In Me" program.

The children learn how to recognize their strengths and use them to their advantage to succeed. It is important to inspire the young students to listen to others, take care of themselves, read, exercise and get a healthy amount of sleep.

"We are proud and excited about this as a staff," Samide said.

HST's motto this year is "Through these doors, kindness is the key," which continues with the theme of the traits found in "Leader In Me."

The entire school is actively involved with the program, Samide said. During library class, students use books they are already familiar with to relate to the seven traits.

Some books that showcase the first habit of being proactive include "Franklin Says Sorry" by Sharon Jennings, "The Paperboy" by Dav Pilkey, "One-Eyed Cat" by Paula Fox and "Where the Red Fern Grows" by Gary Rawls.

Students will eventually create notebooks, where they track and respond to their own progress.

The full implementation of the program begins Oct. 8. Samide has already witnessed students using values from "The Leader In Me" during the school day. By focusing these traits on elementary aged students, Salisbury is working to produce leaders within the community and within the world.