The Leader in Me At RCE "Proving a leadership centered environment that honors the greatness in every child."

by Diana Duckworth, Elementary Counselor

The Leader in Me program revolves around five basic paradigms. A paradigm is simply a belief or way of thinking that controls our actions. This week’s column revolves around the first of these paradigms, called the paradigm of leadership. Rather than believing that leadership is for the few, the Leader in Me and Ralls County Elementary staff and students believe that “everyone can be a leader”.
As I prepared to write this column, I did a search on Google. I searched “What is a leader?” I was amazed to see 5,090,000,000 results pop up. Leadership is a difficult concept to define, probably because it means so many different things to so many different people.
Steven Covey states that a paradigm shift needs to occur in society today. He states, “Many people equate leadership with a formal position of authority. But we believe anyone can be a leader by intentionally leading one’s own life and working well with and encouraging the greatness in others.”
The Leader in Me program helps students develop essential life skills needed to thrive in today’s world. Our staff works hard to help students achieve not only academically but also in developing essential character traits like respect, responsibility, honesty, thoughtfulness, and service to others.
At Ralls County Elementary, students are encouraged to step up and lead their own learning. Students set goals and strive to meet their goals. When students don’t meet their goals, it provides a great opportunity to help students revisit and revise their goals. Students meet regularly with administrators, their teachers, and myself to review their progress on both personal and academic goals.
There are many opportunities for students to lead in the school. Students can serve on the Student Leadership Team, Student PBS Team, serve as a Tiger Tutor, lead at the morning assembly, do classroom leadership jobs and engage in numerous other activities at the school. These are more “formal” types of leadership. Students can also lead informally by being a good friend, striving to be a better reader or mathematician, or stepping up to help others.
Each week, one student from each classroom is nominated for the honor of “Tiger Leader of the Week”. The kids love receiving this recognition. They get to share their award with the principal, write their name on the leadership board in the cafeteria, and they also get to call home so they can tell their parents how they are excelling as a leader. Kids are nominated for being a good friend, making progress in their academic abilities, meeting goals, and any of a number of ways. The Tiger Leader of the Week award celebrates the fact that everyone can be a leader and that leadership comes in many forms.
Students are given the opportunity to step up as leaders every day at Ralls County Elementary. A great example of student leadership occurred this week, when Annabelle Roberts, a third-grade student, stepped up as a friend and a leader. Annabelle came to school this past week, concerned about another student in her class who recently experienced some major health problems. Annabelle stepped up as a leader and asked permission to do something special for the family. She suggested that the school host a “$1 Hat Day” whereby kids can wear their hat to school in exchange for donating $1 to the family to cover medical expenses.
Our students have developed the hearts of leaders, always looking for ways to step up and help others. It is exciting to see students who already know that the choices they make affect not only their own lives, but the lives of others. As our motto states, our goal is “to provide a leadership centered environment that honors the greatness in every child”; and when we say every child, we mean every child!