Staff and scholars of Maricopa Elementary School celebrate their Lighthouse designation.

This year, Maricopa Elementary School became just the fourth “Leader in Me” Lighthouse School in the state. Wednesday, its students helped explain the significance to the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board.

 “To achieve this recognition, we needed to demonstrate the elements of and meet the Lighthouse criteria,” MES Principal Jennifer Robinson said.

Those criteria are core paradigms, leadership, academics, culture and measurable results. Core paradigms include potential, motivation, change and education.

The five-year process is a school transformation drawn from Franklin Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and other materials produced by the Covey organization.

The school’s mission statement combines all of the classes’ mission statements into a collection of important words. One class’s mission statement reads: “We will be proactive and responsible. We will do our best to work hard and pay attention. We will help each other achieve our goals. We will be leaders in all we do.”

Each student has a leadership binder to keep track of school, class and individual efforts. Some students target reading, others math or a behavior goal, and all can track their own progress.

“Motivation is important to me because not reacting and choosing kindness is important,” fifth grader Amanda Childers said. “If I track my progress, I will be successful and move onto sixth grade… I think education is important to me because it is the start to our own future.”

The program includes Wildly Important Goals, or WIGs. One of MES’s WIGs was to achieve Lighthouse status by May. The school reached that goal in February.

The school also achieved another WIG this year, having 80 percent of is scholars making expected growth in math and English language arts. It is close to meeting another WIG, having a daily attendance rate of 95 percent.

Progress is displayed prominently for the students to see how the school is doing.

Robinson said MES followed two Tempe schools (Kyrene) and one in Gilbert in receiving the designation. Since then, Luke Elementary in Glendale became the fifth Arizona school to achieve Lighthouse status.

“This year we were one of 25 schools in the world that [were] given this distinction,” she said. “There are 379 Lighthouse Schools in the world, and MES is one of them.”

Leader in Me recently updated to show 383 Lighthouse Schools worldwide and 3,307 schools in the process.

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