Little leaders: Mural reflects OMES students’ leadership qualities

Local artist and Oak Mountain Elementary School parent, Vallie Pate stands with the mural she created for the school. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

Local artist and Oak Mountain Elementary School parent, Vallie Pate stands with the mural she created for the school. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY—Every day as they walk into school, students at Oak Mountain Elementary are reminded that they are leaders, thanks to a new, colorful mural in the entryway.

OMES will officially become a “Leader in Me” school next fall, integrating seven “habits” of leadership into the curriculum. Leader in Me schools draw from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey and promote his leadership qualities among students: “Be Proactive,” “begin with the end in mind,” “put things first,” “think win-win,” “seek first to understand,” “synergize” and “sharpen the saw.”

Painted specially for OMES by parent and local artist, Vallie Pate, the mural depicts each of Covey’s leadership qualities in Pate’s trademark style and lettering.

“As it happens a lot with projects this big, it came to me in a flash,” Pate said with a laugh. “The image of pie pieces came to mind. You have all these slices and they come together in one image, one piece.”

The mural consists of seven illustrated “slices,” one for each leadership quality. At the center of the mural, at child-level, sits a mirror, so children can see themselves as the leaders they are, Pate explained.

“The intricate details of (the mural), it all works together,” OMES Principal Debbie Horton said. “(The students) are going to be able to visualize that leadership quality from age five and, hopefully, for the rest of their lives.”

The mural is the result of numerous hours of thought, planning and work. Pate took advantage of down time at the school and spent much of spring break working on the mural.

“I wanted to take a little time to let the project speak to me,” Pate said. “This is not something you want to rush.”

The piece has already become a focal point in the school, and with its prime location in the building, students and teachers pass by on a daily basis.

“This I envision becoming a teaching point,” Horton said. “As they stand here and wait… you have a focal point for talking about all these wonderful habits. This is, to me, the beginning of transformation for kids.”