Lake Charles is one of only a handful of communities nationwide hosting a symposium aimed at teaching Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People-- to youth through what's called the Leader In Me program.
The SWLA Economic Development alliance brought the program to our area and is pushing for it to be implemented in all five parishes in our area. In part they see the program as a way to develop a bright, able future workforce.
Today's children are tomorrow's leaders. And the program is aimed at making sure they have what it takes. Lake Charles is one of only ten places nationwide to host symposiums on the program and one is underway now.
As symposium participants at Oak Park Elementary tour that school they see youngster's wearing shirts that say, "I am a leader." It's an idea they are being taught. Students, teachers and staff at the school seem to have embraced the habits set forth in the book--except for the children, it's put forth in language children can understand.
Over the past year, the Leader in Me program has spurred a new way of life here at the school. And on Thursday, students had a chance to show what they've learned as members of the symposium toured the school.
Two little girls who are presenters recite little "speeches" they've memorized for the tour. "Lastly we have Ms. Alfred's class," says one little girl. "She is a veteran teacher with 30 plus years of teaching experience." A fellow student then picks it up. "As you can see, Ms. Alfred's room is empty. This is because her class is participating in I LEAP test prep with our lead teacher here at Oak Park."
The children are young but they get it. Seven year old Dominic Shexnayder has learned the value of thinking win win. "I have habit number four, think win win. It means everyone could win. I started the school year on a two point six math level, but with hard work, by January I was on the four point six math level. I am a winner and everyone can be a winner with hard work. The LSU Tigers may not have won the BCS Championship but they had a near perfect season in the ACC Championship. That in my book is a win win."
Nancy Kelley, with the SWLA Economic Development Alliance, says their goal is to get the Leader in Me into all schools within this five parish area. "We will work to raise funds for every elementary school in the five parish region to have the Leader in Me in it by the middle of 2015."
Oak Park principal, Melinda Hardy, is confident the children are learning skills that will serve them throughout life. "These are principles, seven habits of just being a productive citizen, organization, being accountable, being responsible, practical tips. It's a transformation of being a leader in everything you do."
The symposium has attracted teachers, investors and others from Louisiana as well as surrounding states.
There are world class speakers including the renown Muriel Summers who is considered the guru of the program. She is the school principal who first approached Stephen Covey with the idea of teaching the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to young children. She speaks Friday morning.