Last month, the students and the faculty of Bowling Green Elementary School held the school’s annual Leadership Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the everyday successes of the students at the local elementary school.
The day is organized as part of the local elementary school’s involvement with the ‘Leader in Me’ program.
Karen Lawzano, one of the school’s guidance counselors, said she has seen a tremendous change in the behavior of the school’s students since the programs inception at the elementary in 2013.
“There has been a huge change in our students,” Lawzano said. “I see our students becoming leaders in areas where they are taking charge of themselves. They are setting goals for themselves — they are setting academic goals, personal goals, behavioral goals, and they are achieving these goals.”
According to Lawzano, what separates ‘Leader in Me’ from others like it is that the ‘Leader in Me’ encourages students to monitor their own progress.
“When they set a goal, they put it in the chart in their notebook and then they see their progress through the self-monitoring portion of the program,” Lawzano said. “It is amazing to watch a child grow and see how confident they get when they see how well they are doing.”
Jen Dyer, who works as an Title I instructor in the school and who helped coordinate this year’s Leadership Day, said she too is seeing a difference in the students, even those students who fall short of their goals.
“The most important change that I have seen in the students is the increased accountability,” Dyer said in a recent interview. “The ‘Leader in Me’ program gives them time each week to reflect back on the progress that they have made to reach their goal. If they met that goal, then the program encourages them to set a higher goal. If they have not met it, then they reflect back on it and they see what they could have done differently to achieve that goal.”
Both Dyer and Lawzano said there are major implications to what the students at Bowling Green Elementary are learning through the Leader in Me program.
“I have seen a change in how our kids think,” Lawzano said. “Now, our kids are not just thinking about themselves, but they are thinking about every other person around them — in their classroom, on the school bus and elsewhere. Our students are doing different, incredible things in the community and it is just amazing to see how our kids are working to brighten other people’s lives and change other people’s entire days.”
Those day-changing actions were celebrated at an all-school assembly held in the James A. Wilson Gym. During the assembly, students shared examples of their work and students who had created new leadership initiatives within the school were honored.
Among the students honored were: Dianna Bibb, who created a Bobcat Pride award to allow students to recognize Bowling Green Elementary staff who had made a difference in their lives; Molly Norton, who founded the school’s Kindness Week, which celebrates and encourages students to perform random acts of kindness; Jake Dyer, who formed Team Earth, which organizes the school’s annual Earth Day service projects throughout the community; and Brooke Hickerson, who launched the elementary school’s online student newspaper, The Bobcat News.
After the assembly, Dyer said she hoped the 60-plus attendees of the program gained a better understanding of the ‘Leader in Me’ program.
“Leader in Me is more than just teaching kids about how to be a good person,” Dyer said. “It is so much more than that. Leader in Me is teaching the students the importance of goal setting and achieving success.”
Lawzano added: “Leader in Me doesn’t replace any part of our curriculum, it only enhances it,” Lawzano said. “I think about all the things that the kids are learning, and are now doing because of this program. It is just incredible. I can’t say enough about this program and how it has changed our elementary for the better.”