WESTERN SALISBURY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Western Salisbury Elementary opened its doors to the public toward the end of the school year, with eager students inviting all who entered to share in the celebration of the Leader in Me initiative with an interactive showcase.
The program, currently in its fifth year at WSE, emphasizes youth leadership by giving children the opportunity to step into roles originally given to adults. Students not only greeted patrons – including parents and other public citizens – at the door, but also handed out flyers, and, after an introduction from Principal Grace Hartman, ran a presentation in the gymnasium explaining the Leader in Me program.
“I wanted to give more kids that opportunity to be the shining star, because everybody’s not going to be the captain of the football team or the yearbook editor,” Hartman said. “But everybody has the capability to do that.”
The Leader in Me program relies on seven good leadership habits, which are fostered throughout the school year. The seven habits – including “think win-win,” “begin with the end in mind” and “put first things first“ – allow students to think critically and positively about problem-solving, which in turn helps them strengthen relationships with their teachers and peers.
Students who are seen exhibiting the seven habits during school hours are rewarded with Bee Bucks, which can be redeemed monthly for prizes such as homework passes. Students who wish to get involved in further leadership can join the Student Lighthouse Team, a form of student government which works in tandem with an adult team to plan events for the school.
“They work on organizing the gathering, they work on the fun days, they make decisions if we’re watching a movie, all those kinds of things,” gifted support teacher Kristy Wied said. “So they’re really an integral part of the school. Their voice is heard.”
The Leader in Me also revolves around a central theme each year, with the current school year’s theme being community service.
Each classroom within WSE was tasked with creating and organizing a service project of some sort that could benefit local organizations, including the Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels and Joy of Sox. In addition, a handful of these projects featured the entire school’s participation – in one case, WSE raised $1,500 for Pennies for Patients, which exceeded the earlier goal of $1,300.
After the initial presentation, visitors to the school were invited to explore the individual classrooms of WSE, where the students (with a little help from their teachers) explained their class’s community service project. Students were excited to share how they and their classmates had helped benefit their community through the service projects, with a plethora of slideshows, posters and pictures awaiting anyone who entered each class.
As the school day drew to a close, the entire students gathered in the gymnasium to show the leadership gathering for the adults.
Normally held every Monday morning, the gathering allows the student body to come together and sharpen their leadership skills as a whole. After saying the Pledge of Allegiance and recognizing the students who have shown exemplary leadership over the school year, the children performed the Leader in Me Chant to reinforce the leadership habits. The chant culminated joyously with the verse: “Western Salisbury is our school/where the seven habits rule!”