It’s hard to argue against success.
And in Northville, that’s what elementary school teachers, students and their parents have experienced so far with the Leader in Me program.
The program is based on the book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," by Steven Covey. An elementary school in North Carolina began to use the leadership aspects of the seven habits and eventually Covey developed a book specifically for elementary school students called "The Leader in Me."
and are both implementing the program to all grade levels for the coming year. is also looking to get started in the process.
“Moraine became involved when several of our teacher-leaders attended a dinner a year ago where Steven Covey spoke,” Moraine principal Denise Bryan said. “These teachers had been trained in the seven habits themselves, and were ignited and inspired when they heard about teaching these important concepts to kids through ‘The Leader in Me.’”
Kim Richardson-Hippler was one of four teachers at Moraine who used the program this year. She teaches second grade.
“You’d be so surprised how quickly they pick up on it,” Richardson-Hippler said. “They’re very excited by it. They latched on to the idea of leadership. They integrate it during the day with their activities. It really gives the kids a solid foundation of how to organize, plan and a sense of how they relate to the community.”
Stephanie Jaghab’s daughter, Hannah, 6, was in Holly Piantedosi’s second-grade class at Moraine.
“It helps instill so much more confidence in every day situations that they’re not always exposed to,” Jaghab said. “It develops leadership at such a young age. It’s an opportunity we didn’t have growing up...The more they’re exposed to it the more it can be instilled, which is fantastic. These are important life skills and character traits we all should inspire to achieve.”
Jaghab said she liked seeing her daughter “being proactive, taking charge and being responsible.”
“I like all the habits because they help you learn and be a better person,” Hannah said.
The students have workbooks that teach lessons related to the seven habits. There are also posters in the classrooms that reinforce the concepts.
“The kids have been the best ambassadors of all,” Richardson-Hippler said. “They talk with their parents using the language of the seven habits.”
Moraine plans to fully implement the program over the next three years at an approximate cost of $30,000. That amount may vary depending on the number of students enrolled at the school.
“To date we have raised over $20,000,” Bryan said. “The funds support further instructional training and materials for our teachers. Beginning next fall all of Moraine's students will be immersed in the Leader in Me throughout the school. We're excited to see where this goes.”
Silver Springs held a three-day training seminar last week.
“This was the first initial cost,” said Silver Springs principal Scott Snyder. “We had to get everyone certified and trained in the seven habits. You can’t give the children what you don’t possess yourself.”
Snyder said three days of training for roughly 50 participants cost $11,000, most of which was donated by Marty Testasecca.
“I went to Scott Snyder and asked how are you paying for this?” Testasecca said. “I was working on starting a dad’s club and thought this was the perfect segue. I own a business and thought this was the perfect time to donate for a cause.”
Snyder opened the training not just to teachers, but also the elementary school staff and parents.
Cheryl Sepich is a teacher at Silver Springs who went and saw Covey speak and was instrumental in getting Leader in Me started at the school.
Sepich was one of several people who visited Beaumont Elementary School in Waterford on March 24 for its Leadership Day.
“I was astounded,” Sepich said. “It was just amazing. Leadership Day is one of the things you have to do to become a ‘Lighthouse School.’ It usually takes 2-3 years and they achieved it in nine months.”
Laura Budweg, who has two children at Silver Springs, visited Beaumont as well.
“It was phenomenal what we saw,” she said. “We saw confident children. Students who were learning to work together and prioritize. They were setting their own academic goals and charting how they were progressing. It teaches kids how to become leaders themselves.”
The cost is the only real drawback.
“Over five years, it’s about $50,000,” Snyder said.
The dad’s club is planning a golf outing in September and several other fundraising ideas are already being utilized by both Moraine and Silver Springs.
Ridge Wood is going through a similar process, however, the plan is to begin with Sean Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Happy Kids.”
Ridge Wood principal Alicia Parsons said the school did a study on the book two years ago and is in the process of completing its action plan.
“That’s going to be the first step for us,” Parsons said. “We want to utilize the language and mindset and we’ll look at integrating the leadership components.”