T.R. Simmons Elementary School will implement “The Leader in Me” program with the start of the upcoming school year. The initiative is designed to build the students’ character and leadership skills and is based on “The Leader in Me,” a book written by Stephen Covey, acclaimed author of the best-seller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
“This is something that will change our students for the better,” said Jasper City Schools Superintendent Robert Sparkman, while speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Jasper Monday afternoon. “We also feel this is something that will change the entire culture of T.R. Simmons.”
Sparkman said the program is a combined effort of the Jasper Schools’ Excellence in Education Fund, the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County and area businesses.
“When we started the Fund, we asked possible donors what they’d like to see from our schools,” he said. “Many of them answered that they felt students needed to be more career ready. It’s not that they don’t know math or reading. It’s that they need to show up to work on time. They need to be able to look into someone’s eyes, shake their hand and tell them their name. They need to be able to communicate.”
Schools can build smart people that do bad things, Sparkman said. That is one area “The Leader in Me” addresses.
“We are teaching integrity and character,” he said. “For the most part, it is not specific lessons. It’s just a part of the culture. We want to give our students the mindset of community service and contribution.”
Suzanne Snow, principal at T.R. Simmons, said teachers are in the final stages of their training for the program.
“Most of our teachers will have completed their training this week,” she said. “They are all onboard and can’t wait to get it implemented. For us, it is not a program — it is a way of life.”
There are currently only a handful of Alabama school systems who have implemented “The Leader in Me” into their schools. Sparkman shared a video with Kiwanis members which showed the success of the program in the Decatur City Schools. Sparkman said he would like to see the initiative expand throughout the Jasper City School System, but it wouldn’t be mandated from the central office.
“If other schools want to do it, we want it to expand,” he said. “This is not a program that I feel should be forced on anybody. If things go well, other schools will see the value of the program and it will grow.”
For more information on “The Leader in Me,” visit www.theleaderinme.org.