Kids today will be leaders of tomorrow

by Becky GINOS WOODS CROSS—By teaching leadership skills and good social habits in elementary schools now society will reap the benefits in the future. That’s why Woods Cross Elementary has become a “Leader in Me” school and recently expanded that vision by hosting a mini leadership conference to share their knowledge with Bountiful and Adelaide elementaries. “We’re teaching student councils from other schools how to use the seven habits,” said Luke Yospe a sixth grader at Woods Cross Elementary. “We shared examples of win, win or lose, lose. We showed a video of a softball team that was about to win but the girl tripped on her way to the base. The other team helped her up and carried her. It made them lose the game but it felt good doing service.” The concept is based on the book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. “It’s a way of living and existing,” said SEM teacher Brittany McNair. “We’re teaching them to change their lifestyle to be more productive members of society and not just teach the concepts but to live them.” McNair said it’s a two-part approach. “Teachers integrate it into their daily teaching so they stop and discuss a principle if it comes up and they have direct lessons on the habits using a book they follow,” she said. “It permeates everything we do even on the playground. We also bring parents into the circle so they can use it at home.” In the past, the students have put on a conference for parents but this year they decided to expand out and include other schools. “After going to a BYU conference we thought about other schools that couldn’t go,” said Christine Nesheiwat a teacher at the school and one of the advisors for the student leadership council. “We decided to make a goal of holding a mini leadership conference so we assigned the kids a habit they would practice and helped them refine it.” In addition to the students’ presentations, they had a special speaker and the Woods Cross High School Impact team performed. “The students broke up into groups using the seven habits and came up with things to change and an action plan to make it happen.” Nesheiwat said it takes a lot of work but she’s seeing positive results. “The students are taking ownership,” she said. “Everybody in the school has a job so there’s accountability. There’s kind of a universal language at the school so when something comes up we’ll ask, ‘did you seek to be understood before you got into an argument with a friend?’ We’re not perfect but it’s working.” McNair agrees. “The biggest way you can tally results are through the office,” she said. “Stats turned in show discipline issues have decreased and there’s consistent growth in scores going up. Our principal’s goal was for the junior high to know those kids are from Woods Cross Elementary. We had more representatives on the student council at the junior high than from all the other feeder schools.”


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