As good schools become great schools, a focus of some teacher training involves developing “The Leader in Me” in middle school.

Principal Kevin Pitts of Maryville Middle School is helping his staff take the next giant leap, as they participated in a three day seminar based on Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Havits of Highly Effective People”.  They are also in the process of becoming a “The Leader in Me School”, based on another Covey book which is specifically about schools.

Developing The Leader in Me in Middle SchoolAccording to Pitts, “It’s not a program, it’s a process. It’s a way of creating a culture that the adults lead by example.”  Hc continued. “Then eventually we work that into our curriculum and everything we do in order to influence our students to have the tools to be successful in anything they choose to do down the road.”

In 1999, a struggling elementary school began“The Leader in Me” program.  Since then it has “become a bit more popular in middle schools,” Pitts said. “You see it a little bit more in St. Louis, Kansas City.”

The seven habits 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; and “sharpen the saw.”Developing The Leader in Me in Middle School

Pitts said the guidelines do not directly address academics but rather stress the creation of a culture in which academic excellence occurs.

“We feel like we’ve got a really good culture here already,” he said. “We have an amazing staff that are continuously looking to improve. We’ve studied this (“The Leader in Me”) for two years now. … It just seems like it’s the next step in taking our professional learning community process to the next level. It’s not academic, it’s an effort to make ourselves and our kids and our community better. If we become better people, the community becomes a better place to be.”

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