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Wilkes Leader In Me Program Prepares Students for Success in College and Careers

Wilkes County Schools adopts program to prepare students to be leaders in the classroom and in life

By Teree Caruthers on April 7, 2017

Wilkes County, NC
Wilkes County / Matt Rose

Wilkes County Schools is taking an innovative approach to college and career readiness by focusing on turning the school system’s more than 2,000 middle school students into effective leaders. The Leader In Me program based on the principles of Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Wilkes County Schools began the program during the 2016-2017 school year. To prepare, the school system’s middle school teachers, administrators, coaches and even bus drivers and cafeteria workers attended a comprehensive four-day training that included reading books by Stephen and Shawn Covey. The goal of The Leader In Me is to equip students early on with the real-world, 21st century skills needed to become leaders at school, at home, in the workforce and in the community.

Heather Freeman, principal of North Wilkes Middle School, says those skills – personal responsibility, goal-setting,time management, empathetic listening, conflict resolution, teamwork and respect – are aligned with the school’s academic goals.

The Common Core Learning Standards require students to do more than memorize facts and answer true ­or ­false questions,” she says. “It asks students to take personal responsibility for their own education and requires students to engage with curriculum, think deeply about concepts, form opinions, speak opinions clearly, cite evidence and listen to others’ perspectives respectfully.”

“Our students are showing great leadership skills every day, and we are so proud of them,” adds Cyndi Fowler, a sixth-grade teacher at North Wilkes Middle School. “One fine example is our Reader Leaders. They earned a trip back to their elementary schools to read to the younger students to show them the importance of reading and leadership.

“We have set high expectations for our students. We want them to be leaders at school and outside of school. They see what it takes to be successful in school and life, and we are all working together to help them succeed.”

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