At H.O. Brittingham Elementary School in Milton, every student can be a leader.
This year, students are developing leadership abilities through a motivational philosophy that also guides some of America’s most successful businesses.
Principal Ned Gladfelter said all students follow the Leader in Me philosophy, based on Stephen Covey’s successful book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
Gladfelter said every student received the book “The 7 Habits of Healthy Kids” by Covey’s son, Sean, who adapted themes of his father’s book and geared them toward children, illustrating the leadership skills all kids can learn.
“It’s basic stuff everyone should follow, and the philosophy of our school,” Gladelter said. “We use common language and share common beliefs.”
Gladfelter said the seven habits showcase positive principles for students to internalize at school and home, such as taking responsibility and making good decisions, planning ahead and setting goals, setting priorities and working together.
The philosophy aligns with academic standards including critical thinking, goal-setting and self-directed learning.
Members of H.O. Brittingham’s student leadership team emulate the habits for peers and younger students. The team of fifth-graders applied for their roles last year.
“Students were chosen who were good role models and known to make the right decisions,” Gladfelter said. “It’s a diverse group that reflects our student population and leads our school in a lot of ways. They’re like a school board.”
H.O. Brittingham’s student leaders are Julia Burrell, Jenna Davis, Kerrington Jeffcoat, Elianys Jimenez, Anejah Johnson-Grace, Gianna Razze, Luke Roberts, Ava Webb, Jayden Wilson and Nancy Velasquez.
Students brand school philosophy by creating video morning announcements that help students internalize successful habits. Gladfelter said students love doing announcements.
“They’re settling into preferred roles in front of and behind the camera,” he said, noting some leaders prefer writing copy, others editing or filming classmates on a green screen.
“We use an iPad to film, airdrop it to a laptop and edit on iMovie,” Jenna Davis said.
Students were excited to learn from Gladfelter they would soon be using Teleprompters and start delivering weather reports.
At the school’s recent open house, student leaders were stationed throughout the new building to assist and direct parents and visitors. Leaders each chose habits to discuss with visitors and explain their meanings.
More responsibilities will be added to student leader roles as the year progresses. By year end, the team will have interviewed and selected members for next year’s school leadership team.
The philosophy is developing a school of student leaders proud of their accomplishments.
“Little kids stare at us in the hallway because we’re the school leaders,” Jenna beamed.
The 7 Habits of Healthy Kids
- Be proactive. You’re in charge.
- Begin with the end in mind. Have a plan.
- Put first things first. Work first, then play.
- Think win-win. Everyone can win.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen before you talk.
- Synergize. Together is better.
- Sharpen the saw. Balance feels best.