When Maricopa Elementary School became a “Leader in Me” Lighthouse school in February, it was an accomplishment students and staff had been working toward for four years.
Students, referred to as “scholars” by educators, practice the arts of prioritization, self-empowerment, leadership and accountability.
It was an achievement brought forth by a culture shift within the school. The Lighthouse designation recognizes outstanding progress within the Leader in Me framework.
“We look at scholars and believe everyone has genius,” said MES Principal Jennifer Robinson.
Students follow the format of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the 1989 self-help book by Franklin Covey.
It helps students like fifth-grader Alyssa Norris prioritize daily tasks.
“It helps me by getting my work done early and turning it in so that I can be able to do things that I want to do like play games or help my teacher,” Norris said.
Students are assigned leadership roles as well, such as classroom greeters, line leaders and monitors. Scholars also focus on potential, motivation, change and education – paradigms that guide students through their educational pursuits.
Everyday in the classroom students like Jeremiah Crawford set “Wildly Important Goals” and compose the steps they believe will lead them to success.
“One of my goals is to get a 90 percent or higher on my math test,” Crawford said. The incoming sixth-grader said he accomplished it last school year.
One of the seven habits practiced by the school is synergize, where students are encouraged to solve problems by viewing a conflict through the eyes of another.
It’s fifth-grader Liliana Flores’ favorite habit to practice.
“I like when I see people working together and getting along because it makes the school happy,” Flores said.
The Leader in Me school, one of four in Arizona, has brought about results less measurable than test scores and less tangible than smiles, but important all the same.
One student said she felt empowered during public speaking events, even when her bravery may have faltered at first.
Robinson said that’s the ultimate goal she hopes scholars take with them as they grow in life – realizing anything they want to achieve is possible.
“That self-empowerment, and recognizing that they are the change and they can use their voice to make our world better,” Robinson added.
MES will retain its Lighthouse certification for two years, at which time the school can recertify through a virtual self-assessment.
This story appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.