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Students in Kentucky focus on character

September 16, 2018

RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) — Be proactive. That is the first step in Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Crofton Elementary School did exactly that by joining the Leader in Me program, based on Covey’s book.

“We are very excited about it,” said Lori Dexter, Crofton’s principal. “Our students and teachers are very excited about it as well.”

The program is designed to help students take charge of their own learning. Students will learn to problem solve with a “win-win” attitude and to “put first things first.”

Schools aren’t chosen to participate in the program, instead any school can join if it pays the fee. Crofton has been planning to become a Leader in Me school for a while and budgeted to purchase the program.

A few miles south, Freedom Elementary joined the program three years ago to excellent results. In May, it was honored as a Lighthouse School by the program.

“I don’t know if people really understand how big of a deal that is,” Dexter said.

She added that there are only a few hundred Lighthouse schools in the country, out of more than 3,500 total schools. She hopes that the program will help make that big of an impact in her own school.

She said that when Freedom started the process, she attended its leadership day. She was interested in the program because it targets a student’s character.

She had not yet seen a good, intentional way to teach students character. Of course, academics are extremely important but she thinks that schools need to focus on molding smart students that are also good people.

“I want really smart kids, who are also good people,” she said. “Kids who, when nobody is looking, are going to do the right thing.”

The Leader in Me program has the ability to create a ripple effect up to high school and even on to college. If students learn good habits and character skills in elementary school, those skills will translate to each new level of education.

The program is not just for elementary schools. In 2014, Warren County implemented the program in all of its elementary and middle schools.

When Crofton kicked of its leader in me program, Dexter thought a quote from Covey was the perfect way to explain what the program was all about.

“People who live by the character ethic have strong roots, deep roots” Covey’s quote says. “They withstand the stresses of life and they keep growing and progressing.”

She hopes that this program will build deep roots at Crofton and its students will keep growing and progressing.

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