Leader In Me might expand to Redwood, Chamber chief says

Published 10:44 am Thursday, October 9, 2014

At first a cynic of the unique Leader In Me program now in place at three local public schools, Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce executive director Jane Flowers now counts herself in full support of it and expects another school to implement it next year.

“I was one of the biggest skeptics of that,” Flowers told the Vicksburg Lions Club on Wednesday during a rundown of chamber activities. “It costs maybe $60,000 for a school (to raise) to put that in.

“But, I look back at working with business and industry when I was at Hinds and the issues they had in the workforce. I go to a Leader In Me school and I see how those students are welcoming me when I come into the classroom.”

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Based on author and educator Stephen Covey’s 1989 self-help book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, the program was introduced locally by the Chamber in 2011 after members learned of it at a convention two years earlier. It’s funded by private donations and part of curricula in 1,958 schools worldwide, according to the website of FranklinCovey, a productivity firm founded by the late author. Schools with the “lighthouse” designation means full implementation of the program, and there are 101 Lighthouse Schools. Bovina and Bowmar elementary schools are among those.

Flowers said Redwood Elementary was in the process of becoming the fourth school to incorporate the program into its school day. Former Chamber director Christi Kilroy and businessman Robert Morrison III spearhead a committee that reports progress on the program to Flowers, a process that ends with donated funds being released to the school, Flowers said.

“They’re letting students do so many things instead of the teachers doing them,” Flowers said of what she’s seen with the program, which began at Bovina and Bowmar with $105,000 in donated funds.

“They just have to be psyched up and be ready to do it,” Flowers said of the pace of donations and Redwood’s time frame for becoming a Leader In Me school.

This school year, Dana Road became the third local school to implement the program, which emphasizes setting goals and interpersonal communication skills.