From left: Aubrey Miller, Jane Knight, Beverly Miller, Rickey Darbey, Shelley Hollis,  Lauren Yancey and Randy Fuller at Vincent Elementary Oct. 8. (Contributed)
From left: Aubrey Miller, Jane Knight, Beverly Miller, Rickey Darbey, Shelly Hollis, Lauren Yancey and Randy Fuller at Vincent Elementary Oct. 8. (Contributed)

Archived Story

Vincent Elementary named ‘Leader in Me’ Lighthouse School

Published 4:56pm Tuesday, October 8, 2013

By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer

VINCENT – Visitors who walked into the halls of Vincent Elementary Oct. 8 for its annual Leadership Day were greeted by smiles, firm hand shakes and unwavering eye contact from some of Vincent’s youngest citizens. At the door, students introduced themselves by giving their names and expected high school graduation years.

The greetings are part of a school-wide culture transformation that has been permeating the elementary school within the last several years. After reading the book, “The Leader in Me,” by Stephen Covey, several teachers felt compelled to teach the book’s principles, which are based on Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” to their students.

By weaving “The Leader in Me” principles into their everyday lessons, supporting the lessons with classroom and hallway displays and teaching students “soft skills” such as conflict management, prioritizing and goal-setting, teacher Allison Sanders said “The Leader in Me” program has “vastly changed the school.”

And it’s not just the teachers at Vincent Elementary who think so. At an assembly Oct. 8, Vincent Elementary was recognized as a “Leader in Me” Lighthouse School, the first in Shelby County and one of only 58 schools in the United States to earn the title out nearly 1,500 “Leader in Me” schools throughout the world, according to Shelly Hollis with FranklinCovey, the organization responsible for giving schools the designation.

A school becomes a Lighthouse School based on nine criteria observed during school visits, but it’s about more than just criteria, Hollis said.

“When you walk in the door, you feel the leadership culture,” she said. “You see students who are empowered and in positions of leadership.”

The Leadership Day assembly is a good example. Vincent Elementary students literally ran the show, introducing speakers and students, reciting pledges, singing songs about leadership and explaining their student teams to parents and other visitors. Principal Beverly Miller was introduced only at the very end.

The students also radiate confidence. When FranklinCovey representative Jane Knight asked students to give her a “thumbs up” if they believed they were leaders, nearly every kindergarten through fifth grade thumb went up.

“The purpose of a lighthouse is to guide ships,” Knight said. “We like to recognize schools when they are where you are. You’re ready to guide other schools on their journeys to leadership.”

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