Helping promote leader “ship” at Gum Springs Elementary School are Principal Alisa Hanley, not pictured, and the “7 Habits team including teachers, front row: Tracy Kofke (2nd), Jennifer Wade (2nd), Angie Konarski (5th), LaShea Branton (3rd); back Row: Amy Myers (3rd), Christie Matovina (1st), Katee Gebo (art), Donna Wilson (1st), Darla Paiter (SPED), Carol Smitherman (Pre-K), Alice Lyle (Pre-K) and Jennifer Simmons (Kindergarten).
By FARAH BOHANNON
Gum Springs Elementary students and teachers will be embarking on a new learning adventure this year.
It is an adventure that can be used both academically and personally, and it is something that students can hold onto into adulthood. The school has a nautical theme planned and will set sail on the GSES leader ”ship” where both students and teachers will apply the seven habits of leadership to their lives.
Principal Alisa Hanley says they will work on good habits and leadership skills while striving for academic excellence.
Hanley and a group of teachers that make up the “7 Habits” team members collaborated over the summer after reading “The Leader In Me” by Steven Covey to come up with the best possible school-wide curriculum that promotes leadership and its seven habits — be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand, then to be understood, synergize and sharpen the saw.
A grant was written, and GSES received books to go along with the leadership theme as well as with the curriculum they created. The teachers on this team thought long and hard about how to help students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade learn the seven habits to where they would understand it according to their ages and be able to apply them to their lives.
“The group of teachers that met over the summer to create our leadership curriculum became really passionate about this,” said first grade teacher Donna Wilson. “It was great to see so many of us spending our free time perfecting this curriculum. Our seven habits team is also a great representation of the entire school.”
Wilson also believes that this curriculum will showcase each student’s unique abilities. Academics are certainly important, but each child does not have to compete to be the best mathematician or reader. Teachers will discover the student’s passions and interests and use those to help them succeed in different ways. If a child realizes he or she has a unique talent that the teachers see as important, it offers an incredible incentive to never give up and put 100% into school.
GSES students will study one leadership habit each month of the school year, but they will all build on one another and hopefully be used outside of school as well. Teachers quote the habits throughout the school day and use them while teaching and when settling disputes or arguments between students.
“The seven habits of leadership curriculum will be executed at school, but it can certainly be used at home as well,” said fifth grade teacher Angie Konarski. “I think we as teachers are learning from it, too.”
Third grade teacher LaShea Branton is a mother to two children and says she finds herself using the seven habits of leadership at home as well as at school.
“I believe that the parents of the children we teach can apply the seven habits to their lives as well,” said Branton. “I know this is true because I find myself stating the seven habits at home as a parent, not only when I’m teaching at school.”
GSES students have their own agendas where they write homework assignments, test dates, project dates, and the like, but Hanley says there are also areas where they can add personal goals or anything that will inspire them to do their best. The planners are colorful, cheerful and full of inspiration.
“The seven habits of leadership are embedded into the student planners,” said Hanley. “Every page mentions something about one of the habits so the kids can always remember to apply it to their lives.”
Konarski says the planners filled with leadership inspiration will help students gain important life skills.
“We as adults use planners,” said Konarski. “I think that using a planner teaches good life skills because it helps with planning ahead and time management. As a functioning member of society, it’s important that we know how to figure out what to do next instead of constantly being told what to do. We want to teach our students to be independent and confident. These skills are also important when it comes to working in groups.”
GSES students will participate in several group projects throughout the year to learn how to work closely with others. Teachers will facilitate and ensure the children use the seven habits to achieve success with fellow group members as well as academically. The ability to work in groups and adapt to different personalities is a trait that is important to carry throughout adulthood. GSES teachers believe that introducing this at a young age is beneficial.
“Our kids will learn to agree to disagree,” said Hanley. “It happens every time a group works together, and it is not always easy.” This happens between adults frequently, so learning how to synergize as children will make things somewhat easier once said children become adults in the working world.
GSES Principal Alisa Hanley, the teachers and the students have embarked the Leader”ship”, have set sail and are ready — both teachers and students — to become successful leaders in Jackson County and beyond.
7 Habits from ‘The Leader in Me’
Begin with the end in mind
Put first things first
Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Sharpen the saw