Students, faculty showcase Leader In Me programs at Redwood Elementary

Published 11:23 am Saturday, January 14, 2017

Vicksburg is raising tomorrow’s leaders.

Redwood Elementary School and the Academy of Innovation both spent Friday hosting members of the community for Leadership Day.

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Leadership Day is a student-led event where the children greet their guests, give them tours of the school and tell them how the Leader in Me habits are implemented in their daily activities. Parents, members of the chamber of commerce, law enforcement, school supporters and school district leaders visited the schools to learn a little more about the Leader in Me.

“It went great,” said Margie Heltzel, lead teacher at Redwood.

Redwood had a Dr. Seuss theme for Leadership Day and gave every visitor a card with a character on it to represent his or her tour group. Heltzel said there were between 50 and 60 guests split into four tour groups. The groups spent 45 minutes with a student tour guide visiting classroom and doing activities centered on the leadership habits.

She said the students learned a lot of social and life skills by hosting Leadership Day.

“This helps them with their public speaking, learning how to greet others, shake hands, make eye contact and just how to be hospitable,” Heltzel said. “It teaches them to work with others. It teaches them beyond what they learn in the classroom. They can use it in life and become a better citizen and a better person.”

And the community took notice, she said, with one person remarking some of their employees don’t have the same confidence when greeting others like the elementary school children showed.

Some students performed a skit dressed up as classic Dr. Seuss characters like the Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, Horton, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and taught the children in the skit about being a leader.

“They all came to tell the kids about what it means to be a leader, and they took them through the habits,” Heltzel said describing the skit. “And then the little kids decided they wanted to be leaders because being a leader is cool.”

Heltzel said the school had two Leadership Day presentations: one for the community and one for parents. She said the students would be giving a third presentation next Friday to guests from across the nation who will be in town for the Leader in Me Symposium being held at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

“Everything was student-led,” Heltzel said. “So there were students who opened it up and explained about Leadership Day, and what we have been working on all year.”

The Academy of Innovation’s theme was, “Geared up 4 Life,” incorporating the school’s robot and gear mascots, which represent the school and its STEM curriculum.

Principal Jason McKellar said the school’s day started off with a pep rally incorporating the cheerleaders and band as well as speeches from some students about incorporating the Leader in Me habits into their academics and daily lives.

“We opened up campus and had a break out session where our visitors could go to different classrooms and meet with the students, and the students talked about the habits more in depth,” he said. “It gives the kids an opportunity to show off the things they’re doing here.”

He gave the students all the credit for making the day possible. From setting out chairs to making speeches and leading presentations, he said it was their responsibility to make the day a success, and he was proud of their hard work.

McKellar said his students learned a number of skills when planning Leadership Day like working together, responsibility, organization and most importantly leadership.

“We want to grow leaders. We want people who will be leaders one day. They’re our future,” he said.