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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
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Dudley celebrates ‘Leadership Day’ with community
Program teaches seven habits of effective leaders
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Photo by Stephanie Cook: Students at Dudley Elementary performed songs and gave speeches to educational, business and political leaders during their recent Leadership Day program.

Friday, March 21, 2014

By STEPHANIE COOK - Special to the News-Post

Franklin County educational, business and political leaders visited Dudley Elementary last week for the school's first annual Leadership Day to showcase its participation in the "The Leader in Me" program.

"Leaders are those who have influence over others, and we recognize that even kindergartners are capable of having influence on each other and their community as leaders," said Principal Lisa Newell, "It is our job as educators to find the best in children and bring it out, and this program is helping us to do just that."

The Leader in Me program is a whole-school transformation model that improves the performance of all other programs, according to the program's website.

The process is based on "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," a self-help book by Stephen R. Covey.

During Leadership Day, students demonstrated these habits by dressing for success, giving speeches and greeting and guiding guests. They also sang songs that helped explain the meanings and applications of the seven habits.

Funding for the program came mostly from a $45,000 grant from Panda Express to implement and continue the program over the next five years.

"We pay an additional $6,000 for the website license and a coach from Franklin Covey to guide us through the program," said Newell. "We raise money for that effort. Currently, our Student Council Association (SCA) fundraisers support our program. This gives our students a chance to work for the effort and to the see the value of our combined efforts."

The program consists of training for all employees and for the leadership team. Employees are being trained to teach future staff and to offer family workshops using the resource "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families."

The grant also purchases books, including several copies of "The Seven Habits of Effective People" and "The Leader in Me" for the school library so anyone in the community can have access to them.

Each teacher received a copy of the "The Seven Habits of Happy Children" and a poster for their classroom use. Also, each employee received a manual for use within the school and each student received a workbook designed for their grade level.

Through the implementation of the program, Newell said she hopes to see improvement in both academics and discipline.

"Our discipline referrals have decreased by 50 percent, which certainly gives students a more positive learning environment and less time missing instruction due to discipline needs," Newell said. "To report accurate academic data, we will need a full year of implementation before we measure since we are using state standards tests."

Newell said she firmly believes that the program is creating a cultural shift in Dudley that will show its merit with time.

"These positive changes build 21st century skills, such as responsibility, integrity, initiative, conflict management, analytical skills, problem solving, teamwork, collaboration and listening skills," said Newell. "While these changes are not easy to measure, we know our students will leave Dudley Elementary with skills that are valued in the workplace in addition to being proficient in reading, math, science and social studies."

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