Iotla Valley Elementary Starts New Leadership Program

In the upcoming school year, Iotla Valley Elementary School will undergo a whole school transformation teaching its students 21st century leadership and life skills and creating a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader. Following a successful year of fundraising, planning and training, everything is in place this fall to embrace the school’s new leadership program — The Leader in Me.

The Leader in Me is a program based on the business and self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People written by Stephen R. Covey. The 7 Habits is a synthesis of universal, timeless principles of personal and interpersonal effectiveness, such as responsibility, vision, integrity, teamwork, collaboration and renewal, which are secular in nature and common to all people and cultures. The Leader in Me focuses on Covey’s 7 habits – Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand, Then to Understood, Synergize and Sharpen the Saw.

The new program at Iotla Valley will kick off before school starts with its first annual Camp WolfPack to be held August 15-16 for fourth graders. At the camp, teachers will work with students in small groups to teach them about the 7 Habits of Happy Kids, a kid friendly version of Covey’s 7 habits and the foundation of the Leader in Me Program. In the fall, these trained fourth graders will be the school’s leaders of the pack spending time in each grade level teaching the other students. During the camp, the students will tie-dye leadership shirts, learn leadership songs, create artwork and play games designed to build teamwork.

“This program is a whole-school transformation model that empowers students with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century,” said IVE Principal Michelle Bell. “We will be focusing on the whole-child, acknowledging the genius in all of our students and recognizing that all students can be leaders. We will be teaching students the skills they need for self-discipline, vision, and initiative as well as collaboration, communication and relationship building.” 

The cost for the first year of implementation of the program is $35,458 which includes four days of training for the school’s teachers and staff, additional coaching throughout the school year, online access to curriculum, videos, tools for assessing growth and impact, materials for students and teachers, and the intellectual property license. The school has raised approximately $23,000 and made some materials cuts to get the program underway this school year. Staff development funds left over from last year’s budget were used to pay for two days of training for the staff this summer. In addition, the school has received a grant from Congregations for Children, a large donation from Rotary and the Cowee Community Development Organization. 

This year the school will need to raise approximately $15,500 for the program and has started fund-raising with their sponsorship wall. In addition, the school has several fundraisers planned for this year, including Krispy Kreme donut sales, a community garage sale, a Painting and Pastries event and the second annual Leadership and Literature event.

The program was started at A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina under the leadership of Principal Muriel Summers. Summers partnered with FranklinCovey to create the program which turned her failing elementary school into the #1 magnet school in the country. Several schools in western North Carolina have implemented the program including Weaverville Elementary, Weaverville Primary, Estes Elementary, Averys Creek Elementary, Dana Elementary, Sugarloaf Elementary and Koontz Intermediate.

“We are very excited to start this process with our students,” added Bell. “I think this program will make a tremendous impact on our students and families.  The schools that have implemented the Leader in Me have shown a reduction in discipline referrals, an increase in student achievement, and overall satisfaction with school culture.”