The visitors were at the school to hear about “The Leader in Me” program that was recently implemented there. The character-based initiative is modeled after author Stephen Covey’s follow-up to his best-selling self-help book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
Students at T.R. Simmons are learning how to incorporate habits such as being proactive and putting first things first into their life in and out of school.
The second grade greeted their guests on Wednesday with a presentation of the “Win-Win” song, an original composition based on one of the habits.
Jasper City Schools Superintendent Robert Sparkman said the program is already having an impact. For example, office referrals and tardies are down and reading and math scores are up so far in 2011.
“It’s making a difference, and our staff is excited about what they’re seeing happen in the lives of children,” Sparkman said.
Bevill State Community College and the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County have partnered with the school and city school system on “The Leader in Me.”
Chamber president Linda Lewis called the program a “grand slam.”
Lewis said that although she was impressed by the book, a trip to a South Carolina elementary school where it has been implemented convinced her of the program’s worth.
“The thing that sold me was the young man who came to the front door, shook our hand, gave us eye contact and said, ‘Welcome to Summerville Elementary School,’” Lewis said.
Dr. Kim Ennis of Bevill State Community College said older youth and adults have benefited from leadership programs in Walker County for years. However, she added that children in elementary school need to be learning the same “soft” skills, such as communication and developing good relationships with others.
“If we’re going to build tomorrow’s workforce, this is where we have got to begin,” Ennis said.
Congressman Robert Aderholt gave the program his endorsement as both a legislator and the father of a second grader during his stop at the school on Wednesday.
“We have to have the basics. Those are important. But if you stop there and don’t try to introduce children to some leadership skills, then in my opinion you have failed them,” Aderholt said.