VWSD highlighted during symposium

Published 6:59 pm Friday, March 2, 2018

The Vicksburg Warren School District was on full display Friday.

VWSD and FranklinCovey teamed up to host the third annual Mississippi Leader in Me Symposium at the Vicksburg Convention Center. The event was attended by more than 150 representatives from schools throughout the region interested in learning more about the Leader in Me program.

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“I think the thing that is amazing is when you feel the breadth of what you are doing,” VWSD superintendent Chad Shealy said. “This isn’t just impacting a child, which is important, or a school, which is also important, or a community, which is also important, when you cam make a footprint on the nation by the practices that are being executed inside your school district and have other states come in and emulate what you are doing, that validates all that we are doing.”

The event kicked off in the morning with a performance by the district’s honor choir with students from elementary through high school performing. Participants were then treated to a student-led presentation on the importance of data and a talk by FranklinCovey coach and consultant Lonnie Moore.

“The point of this is to create an event where other Leader in Me-minded people, both current Leader in Me schools and new schools that just have an idea and interest in learning more, to bring them together and allow them to collaborate with each other,” Moore said.

To enable them to see Leader in Me in action, the participants were able to take tours of either Redwood, Bowmar or Beechwood elementary schools or the Academy of Innovation.

“It was amazing,” Bianca Jefferson, a middle school principal in Nashville who toured AOI, said. “I was a little jealous of all the great things they had going on. I got so many great ideas. I am excited to go back and start doing stuff immediately. I brought two people with me from my building and honestly I am completely sold. I am all the way bought in. Now, I am formalizing how I am going to go back to my school and get everybody else in. We are doing it.”

Jefferson was part of a large contingent from Nashville that made the trip down to Vicksburg in order to learn more about the program and help with their implementation.

“I think we all came for different reasons,” Jefferson said. “My reason for coming was I am thinking about implementing Leader in Me at my school next school year. I wanted to see it in action to know if it is the right thing to move us in the way we need to move.

“My biggest takeaway is it starts with adults; it starts with us. It starts with how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves.”

After the tours, there was a panel discussion with leaders from VWSD and other districts as well as a student from River City Early College. The panelist took questions on topics including how the changes in culture were implemented and how long it took before results were seen.

“We are trying to implement the Leader in Me, so it was nice to see another school and how they are doing everything,” Lexi Taylor, a third grade interventionist from Starkville, said. “It was really cool seeing the kids be able to own the habits. You are not having to tell them this is this habit. They already know that. It was really cool seeing the chess club say this is win, win because we are working together.”

The final event of the day was a speech by keynote speaker Aric Bostick. He is an educator who became widely known after creating a goal-setting club at the high school where he worked. He talked to the teachers and administrators gathered about being the positive attitude they want to see in their school and creating change by first changing themselves.

“You should leave a Leader in Me transformed,” Bostick said. “Be transformed for the renewing of your mind. It is about mindset. The mindset isn’t worrying about your teachers. Worry about you. Worry about how you are going to show up next week. If they can’t see a change in you, how are they going to see a change in them? What the possibilities are.”