Kerby, Mason, and Trombly elementary schools are next in line to begin the process of becoming a Leader in Me school thanks to the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education’s (GPFPE) five-year fundraising campaign. The program kicked off for the new schools in August with three full days of training for all staff, two in the 7 habits and one in launching leadership.
With Poupard Elementary School — which received a grant four years ago — leading the way, Ferry in its third year and Defer its second, the Grosse Pointe Public School System is on target to achieving Leader in Me’s designation as a lighthouse district, with all nine elementary schools adopting Leader in Me in a “One GP” approach. Slated next year are Maire, Monteith and Richard elementary schools.
What distinguishes Leader in Me from other character-based education programs is it invests in teachers “as human beings,” said Sara Delgado, Principal at Kerby Elementary School. “It takes them through the training for their own personal lives. I think it’s a lot easier to apply something to your students when you’ve gone through it for yourself versus, ‘here’s the workbook.’ … I think that’s why the Leader in Me is really taking off in the way that it has because it invests in the people first as educators because they personalize it and then apply it.”
In Mason Principal Roy Bishop’s view, the program fits in with Mason’s existing mission “to be a learner, be a leader and be kind.
“It’s not new, it’s not an add-on; it’s simply taking what we already do and giving students ownership over their learning and allowing them to be leaders in our community,” he said. “It’s our job to make sure we’re producing great global citizens, (preparing them for) middle school, high school, college, the real world. Those certain skills you need to handle any situation that is thrown at you is really what we are doing here. It all starts here at the ground level.”
For Walt Fitzpatrick, principal at Trombly, the training in the 7 habits — what he calls the core of the program — “created a mind shift for me on what the program is about. … What I came away with first was it’s more about us as leaders and as models for the kids than as something we do for or with the kids.”
“A lot of Leader in Me is about balance — finding that work-life balance and taking care of yourself because if you’re not good, you’re not going to be able to be at your best for your students,” Fitzpatrick said.
In 24 years with the district, Fitzpatrick said this is one of the most exciting in his career.
“It’s going to be exciting and it’ll be a journey, but we’re going to take it together.”