WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Educators at one elementary school came up with a creative way to bring out the leader in every student.
A royal visit doesn’t happen every day, but Lady Leadership stops by Waukee Community School District’s Maple Grove Elementary at least once a month.
“Kids love fairy tales, and we wanted to add a magical element that would create a connection that would hopefully resonate with them for the rest of their life,” said Jennifer Neal.
Neal is the school’s counselor. She did princess parties in the past and used her experience to teach leadership habits as part of the school’s Leader in Me program. The program is in schools across the country, but Lady Leadership is unique to Maple Grove. Leader in Me was created by a school in North Carolina based on Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Maple Grove Elementary Principal Kim Tierney said, “They brought the work of basically the principles and paradigms of effectiveness, 21st century skills, into the work we do with elementary age students, so we bring that into our climate and culture here.”
Lady Leadership leads monthly school assemblies, along with eight kindergarten students dressed in costumes representing the leadership habits.
Ethan Henson is Find Your Sunshine Sun. He said, “I help everyone find their sunshine.”
Ellie Freese, Sharpen the Saw Beaver, said, “It means you help everyone sharpen their saw by telling them how to learn and be quite at level zero.”
Karsten Sherrill is Synergize Squirrel. He said, “I help everyone synergize.”
Jack Krieger said as Seek First to Understand Skunk he teaches students to, “Listen when somebody is talking.”
Emma Grubb is Win-Win Wabbit. She said, “I help them think win-win, so it’s fair.”
Cadence Klinginsmith is First Things First Frog, and Eleanor Hummel is Begin with the End in Mind Bear. She said, “I help people think ahead.”
Koye Gericke is Be Proactive Bucky, saying, “I help everybody get smarter and everybody be friendly.”
This is the first year for Lady Leadership at the school, but Maple Grove has had the Leader in Me Program for three years. The principal said it has made a difference.
“We’ve had positive results, such as our academic achievement increasing over time throughout the past four years. We’ve also had our attendance increase, as well as office referrals decrease,” said Tierney.
Neal added, “Our whole goal is to help children reach their full potential. We want them to be the best versions of themselves they can be.”
Signs in the hall remind students of the habits. The school also gives out trading cards when students get a full punch card from demonstrating the leadership traits. A full punch card means a chance to win a prize, like pizza with the principal. The prize at the end of the year is a five course meal with Lady Leadership.