“Good morning! Welcome to Dakota Valley.”
“Would you like a tour of our building?”
The greeters were polite and professional. The registration staff carefully checked people in and handed them packets of information. It was hard to believe they were elementary school students, not trained professionals.
The tour guides were equally prepared, leading guests along “Sharpen the Saw” Boulevard and pointing out special features like the Synergy Spot, which made more sense as the day went on.
This was the beginning of Leadership Day at Dakota Valley Elementary School, a “Leader in Me” school where students learn and live the tenets in FranklinCovey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
1. Be proactive;
2. Begin with the end in mind;
3. Put first things first;
4. Think win-win;
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood;
7. Sharpen the saw.
During the student-led Leadership Day presentation to community members and other guests, student speakers explained each of the habits.
“Begin with the end in mind means to have a plan,” said third-grader Alianah Martinez. “I plan ahead and set goals.”
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood, is a very important habit,” said fourth-grader Tucker Severts. “It means to listen to other people first, then share your idea or opinion.”
Dakota Valley students, who had applied for Leadership Day positions, then took guests to visit classrooms, where they could see how the habits are naturally integrated into everyday classroom activities. Kindergarteners sang their happy habits song with energy and enthusiasm, while fourth-graders proudly shared their leadership notebooks, where they are recording their progress toward their goals in reading, behavior and leadership.
“It’s a very positive program,” said Principal Cheryl Fullmer. “It helps students take ownership of their learning. They’re setting and tracking goals and they’re accountable for their behavior.”
Parents say the habits are also helpful outside of school.
“Using the seven habits at home has changed our environment tremendously,” said Ami Grube, mother of third- and fifth-grade boys. “I’m excited to see how this impacts them as they go on.”
Dakota Valley has been a “Leader in Me” school for three years. Fullmer says the program has helped reduce behavior problems, contributed to increased student achievement, improved staff collaboration and morale and increased parent involvement and satisfaction.
“The students at Dakota Valley are getting training in elementary school that many people do not get until they enter the work force,” said Fullmer. “I believe in the genius in each and every student and as a staff we cultivate their leadership to help the greater good.”