Friday, February 24, 2012

Hemingway Elementary has 400 leaders

Parents and students gather to hear author Sean Covey

Express Staff Writer

Author Sean Covey likes to involve the audience in his speeches. He’s shown here Thursday at Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum involving fifth-grader Kevin Myles in a “seven healthy habits” discussion.

There are a lot of student leaders at Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum.

Fifty of them, grades K-5, talked about how they are leaders at a "7-Habits Assembly" in the school gymnasium Thursday morning.

Some are leaders in athletics, scholastics or performing arts. Others are leaders in other things.

"I am a leader in being quiet so my classmates can learn more," said a girl who identified herself as Desiree.

"My name is Max," said another student. "I am a leader—I am a leader in friendship."

Being a leader is the cornerstone of a Leader in Me program taking hold in the Blaine County School District. Its developer, author and motivational speaker Sean Covey, was in the Wood River Valley on Thursday to talk to student participants and see how the program is progressing.

The program teaches leadership through development of seven healthy habits that Covey teaches are applicable to both adults and children and to people anywhere in the world.

Piloted last year at Hailey Elementary School and Carey School, the Leader in Me program was extended this year to Hemingway, Woodside and Bellevue elementary schools.

All three of the new Leader in Me schools held special assemblies Thursday, with Covey and an entourage of School District officials attending each of them.

At Hemingway, student after student came to a podium to briefly discuss his or her leadership roles and the seven habits.

"Being proactive means I'm responsible for myself and I don't blame others," said a student who identified himself as Nathan.

"The seven habits helps us organize our lives," said a girl named Megan.

Some of the students, enrollees in the school district's Dual Immersion program, delivered their messages in Spanish.


Hemingway Principal Don Haisley told the overflow crowd of students, teachers, parents and district officials that the hard part in putting the assembly together was not finding 50 students to talk about leadership. He said that among all the schools, some 400 students are now leaders, and the difficult part was narrowing the speakers list down to 50.

Covey gave a speech as part of the assembly, but calling it a speech is sort of a misnomer. Instead, he has a style of involving the audience, frequently asking questions and talking directly to students and then leading exercises in demonstrating the hand signals of the seven healthy habits.

"They work everywhere, even if you live in Brazil or somewhere else," he said. "By leadership, we don't mean you've going to be the next president, though one of you might be, but it means you're going to be a leader in life."

He explained being proactive as "I'm in charge of my own life—I'm not a victim. If someone is rude to me, it doesn't mean I have to be rude back."

He explained "sharpening the saw" as developing and using the right tools to get something done.

A "win-win" situation, Covey said, "means you always care about the other person and about yourself."

As an example, he described a scenario in which two people are running from a bear.

"One of them tells the other, 'I don't have to run faster than the bear—I just have to run faster than you.' Well, that's not a win-win."

In explaining listening, Covey said we have two ears and only one mouth and we should use them accordingly.

"The best form of communication is to first seek understanding of the other person," he said.

Covey explained "synergy" as working together, and used a flying flock of geese as an example. The lead goose, he said, breaks air resistance so the other geese can fly more easily.

"They can fly 71 percent farther by working together," he said. "We could learn a lot from geese—they're smart birds."

Terry Smith:

The 'seven healthy habits'

Habit 1: Be proactive

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

Habit 3: Put first things first

Habit 4: Think win-win

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Habit 6: Synergize

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw

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