Longfellow Elementary School students have embraced FranklinCovey’s “The Leader in Me” whole-school transformation process, which teaches them leadership, responsibility, self-direction, teamwork, and much more.
In fact, the innovative model, based on Stephen Covey’s 1989 book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” has been so successful that Longfellow is now a “Lighthouse School,” or an exemplary campus. The school hosted an annual Leadership Day Expo on April 7, 2016, attended by teachers, principals, administrators, and even parents from HISD and other districts across the state.
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During the day-long expo, students acted as guides, greeting visitors, shaking hands, and welcoming them to Longfellow. In their classrooms, students explained some of the components of “The Leader in Me,” which include each class’s mission statement, every student’s leadership notebook, and individual “anchor charts,” which focus on an area where the student needs support. Dontay in Ms. Alvarado’s fourth-grade class explained how they earn points for reading and proudly showed off his leading position among the class. “I have 66.1 points,” he said. “I have read over 100 books so far this year.”
Jasmine, Chris, and Daniel showed visitors the classroom library and explained leveled reading, while Peyton proudly showed off her leadership notebook.
Twenty-three HISD middle and elementary schools currently use the leadership model, and that number is growing.
“We are in the process of setting up a feeder pattern in HISD,” said FranklinCovey Education representative Jason Quinlan. “We hope to have a high school program in place by 2018.”
HISD Chief Academic Officer Andrew Houlihan, who was guest speaker at the event, was introduced to the seven habits at a young age and stated that he has used the principles successfully “as a teacher, principal, and now administrator.”
Dr. Houlihan summarized three key principles that schools should have in place for students to be successful: (1) strong leadership, (2) shared values and beliefs, and (3) student ownership. “The classroom belongs to the students, and they know it,” he said. He also advised attendees beginning the leadership process to “go slow now and go fast later,” build connections with parents, and take risks by trying new things.
Longfellow visitors were entertained by the school’s band/orchestra, dance troupe, and chorus before spreading out across the school to observe “The Leader in Me” in action. Each grade level represented one of the seven habits, such as be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and think win-win.