When the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education asked the GPPSS Director of Elementary Curriculum, Keith Howell, for his views on impactful programs that would help our district achieve its strategic plan, he did not hesitate. With the full support of GPPSS Superintendent, Dr. Gary Niehaus, Mr. Howell presented The Leader in Me to the GPFPE as a highly effective integrative program that gives students the tools they need to meet the future.
The Leader in Me originated from Stephen Covey’s highly acclaimed “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. The program teaches 21st century leadership and life skills to students and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader. Through high expectations, collaboration, utilization of technology and professional practice, student leaders embrace a love of learning, discover their “voice”, and learn the skills, attitudes, and behaviors to be proactive contributors in a changing world. To read more about “The 7 Habits for Kids” click here.
Grosse Pointe educators are very enthusiastic about The Leader in Me, especially Poupard Principal, Penny Stocks. Several years ago, Ms. Stocks, realized her school “needed a toolbox that students could carry around for life.” The toolbox she had in mind would help today’s students master content while learning interpersonal communication skills for success in an increasingly fluid, interconnected, and complex world. Wisely understanding her school did not need another management technique that would add to her teachers’ busy load, she sought an ‘operating system’ that would provide a cohesive practice to positively impact leadership, culture, and academics for the staff, the students, and their families. With that goal in mind, Ms. Stocks applied for and was awarded a five-year grant to become a The Leader in Me school.
After just one year, the results at Poupard have been amazing. On January 20, 2017, the Michigan Department of Education released its annual scorecards. For the first time, the State of Michigan named Poupard Elementary School a “Rewards School”, the highest rating possible in the accountability report. Reward Schools are schools that ranked in the top 5% overall, top 5% in improvement, or identified as a “Beating the Odds” school (using either methodology 1 or 2). Schools that are “Beating the Odds” are those that outperform other schools in similar situations.
In addition to state recognition, Ms. Stocks has observed other positive results. Family involvement in Parent Night is up. Teacher satisfaction and staff cohesion has improved greatly. Absence and tardy rates have declined. Student and parent conference attendance grew 5% this past fall. In fact, a visit to Poupard shows that The Leader in Me has transformed not only the classroom, but the entire school environment. Students keep track of their daily progress in colorful notebooks, they proudly display their leadership necklaces with “badges” they have earned for their own forms of leadership, they create murals and art related to their goals, they plan and implement the school’s Town Hall Meetings and video announcements, and they actively share what they learn with their families.
Not only has The Leader in Me changed Poupard, but Parcells Middle School has taken notice of incoming students who benefitted from The Leader in Me at Poupard. “The skills and attributes of The Leader In Me program emphasize what is needed for success in middle school and beyond. With only one quarter of our 6th graders having gone through the program, we have already seen an increase in positive behavior this year. Moving forward, students will undoubtedly put these skills to use at Parcells and we are excited to watch the program and our students grow over the years to come,” says Parcells Middle School Principal, Dan Hartley.
The Leader in Me stands out as a vital educational tool that fulfills the goals of the GPFPE. In keeping with our mission to support the GPPSS strategic plan and to enrich, engage, and inspire our future, the GPFPE is embarking on a journey to fund The Leader in Me in Grosse Pointe Public Schools.
“Transforming a student into a leader will make a difference locally and globally.”
Gary Niehaus, Superintendent,
Grosse Pointe Public School System