CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Leader In Me program isn’t just teaching leadership skills at Rocky River Elementary school—it’s about life skills too.
“The leadership, the culture and the academics and so underneath each one of those there are certain things that we want to accomplish to help our kids be leaders," says 5th grade teacher, Brittany Marshall and Co-Chair Light House Team, fifth grade teacher.
It’s the first thing students see at the beginning of the day, a sign in the front hallway that reads “Enter a Learner” and when they leave for the day, an adjacent sign above reads “Exit a Leader”. Leadership means a lot to Rocky River and now, they’re getting recognized for their hard work.
“We’re helping every student have a leadership role, whether its in the classroom or outside of the classroom in the hallways,” says Marshall.
They do it through the Leader In Me program—geared towards improving schools and empowering students with leadership and life skills.
“With reading and math, it just makes it fun and more of a balanced thing and it really helps me out."
Each grade focuses on seven ‘habits’ and they’re sorted randomly into what they call ‘leadership houses’.
"In first [grade], they’re just learning the basics of what is the habit and what does it mean, but when we get into the higher level grades we go into ‘well how does this apply to your life and how do you use it every single day.”
“All the habits are really my favorite because they’ve all helped me in life," says 4th grader, Austin Johnson.
Johnson says the program gave him more than just leadership skills…
“Before, I didn’t really have any friends because I was too quite and I would never talk to anybody but now because I have done [Leader In Me], I can do teamwork better and I’ve made more friends.”
Right now, Prospect, Sandy Ridge, Benton Heights, Indian Trail, and Rocky River Elementary are all Leader In Me schools in Union County. The startup costs for the program are about $60k. To earn Lighthouse status, the school has to show results that go above and beyond implementing the program—only 417 schools in the world hold the title. Now, Rocky River has that title, too.
“It was pure joy in their eyes, that their hard work had paid off," said Marshall. “To develop the skills they need, to move on to middle school, move on to high school then even college and their career. I think we are developing those skills now and showing the importance of starting now so that it gets easier and more of a habit when they are older.”
Indian Trail Elementary also received Lighthouse status in 2016.