Coosaw Elementary first in “Leader in Me”

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(Left to right): Leader in Me Menotr Rick Weber, Math Coach Renee Glover, Principal Carmen Dillard, Media Specialist Lynda Gernigan
By Tess Malijenovsky
Coosaw Elementary will be the first school in Beaufort County and the 12th school in South Carolina to implement “The Leader in Me,” a model for developing “the whole child”. Monday, August 13, teachers gathered in the media center with principal Carmen Dillard and Rick Weber, a Leader in Me mentor, to brainstorm ways to gradually imbed this new model into their school.
The Leader in Me was developed by Dr. Stephen Covey and based off his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Rather than introducing a brand new curriculum, the model will weave seven habits of leadership into the school’s current curriculum in a ubiquitous fashion.
“It’s just a feeling you have when you come in. The students hold their heads a little higher because they have confidence in themselves, or they have pride because this is their school,” explained Rick Weber.
The teachers are able to instill this feeling by building a strong foundation that uses habits and leadership tools. Those seven habits include being proactive, setting personal goals, making priorities, searching for solutions, listening to the ideas and feelings of others, working with others and healthy living.
“When you see a kindergartner come up to you and say ‘this is my personal goal’ you take a step back as an adult and say ‘do I have a personal goal?’” continued Mr. Weber.
Renee Glover, a Coosaw Math Coach who traveled to various schools and symposiums on Leader in Me over the last two years, thought of her son and the leadership training he received from the military: “I thought, how great would it be to start with very young children and help them to develop those skills we just assume that they’re going to get as adults? If we can start here early in a nurturing environment it will help them to be more successful, to be happier and also to give back to the community.”
Implementing the new model will be a gradual process that’s expected to take at least three years. “We just want to make sure we’re not rushing and that we’re doing it properly so that we’re not overwhelming the students or the teachers,” said Glover. However, Principal Dillard and the Coosaw Elementary staff are excited to get started. The excitement will have a domino affect: the teachers being excited makes the students excited, which makes the parents excited and finally reaches the community.
“Once you get the community on board there’s no stopping,” Weber said. “It’s about bringing everyone together with the same purpose in mind—to develop those leadership qualities in these elementary students who will one day be leaders in the real world.”

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