The Sumpter School District is working to create a culture shift at five South Carolina elementary schools through a “Leader in Me” character education curriculum based on “The Seven Habits of Happy Kids.”
“The Seven Habits of Happy Kids” is a book by Sean Covey, son of best-selling author Stephen Covey, who is known internationally for his work “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” The Leader in Me curriculum encourages kids to create habits to “Be Proactive,” “Begin with the End in Mind,” “Put First Things First” and “Think Win-Win,” among others, the Sumter Item reports.
In Sumter schools, administrators and teachers are working to incorporate the concepts into all aspects of school life with the help of designated Student Leaders. Each month, participating schools select Student Leaders of the Month from each classroom, as well as a Teacher Leader of the Month from each school, and celebrate the recognition during a special awards breakfast with parents.
The new approach has created “a huge climate change in the school among both students and teachers,” Shaw Heights Elementary School principal Melissa Morris told the news site.
Morris said teachers focus on a fresh aspect of the habits for healthy kids each week, and she’s witnessed a decrease in behavior problems compared to previous years, something she attributes to Leader in Me’s focus on deeper concepts that are often overlooked by other character education programs.
“In Think Win-Win, students not only celebrate their successes, but also celebrate others’ success, accordingly, as well,” Morris said. “The program is helping throughout the building. Previous methods never caused a cultural shift for the whole school. We’re creating responsible, respectful, life-long learners.”
Students and parents seem to agree.
Clyde and Tiffany Rankins both took time off work in the U.S. Air Force to attend a recent breakfast at Shaw Heights, where their third-grade son Kayleb was selected as classroom Student Leader of the Month.
“We’re super proud of him,” Tiffany Rankins told the Item. “We’re proud to see him be a leader among his peers. I think it’s a great initiative.”
The successful program reflects the strong ties between Sumter schools and parents, and the shared vision of creating well-balanced students of good character
James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, wrote in his book “The Tragedy of Moral Education in America”:
Morality is a vision of moral goods shared by a community; the attitudes, aspirations, sensibilities, and dispositions that define its highest aspirations for itself, and how those moral goods find expression in every situation in daily life.
The Leader in Me website offers a variety of ways to take action, whether it’s through education, advocacy, parenting or sponsorship. The site also provides links to events, funding, resources, news, speakers, books, and blogs to guide people through the school transformation process.