In a time where school fights and threats seem all too common, a program is taking off in the Oklahoma City metro, teaching children to make better and “leader-like” decisions.
Teachers and administrators at County Estates Elementary in Midwest City are following what is called “The 7 Habits of Effective People.”
A self-book, written by Stephen Covey for adults, has been altered to help children learn skills to become the best version of themselves.
“We know kiddos come with a lot of emotional baggage and they bring that to school,” said Country Estate Elementary School Counselor, Brandi York. “It is our job to nurture them, take care of them and love them through whatever they are going through.”
The program is active in only a handful of schools statewide, thanks to a $75,000 grant the elementary school’s former principal applied for.
Students also learn responsibility with jobs they apply for, including the announcements, a classroom electrician to turn on and off lights or working lunch patrol.
Third grader Akoree Walker volunteered for the lunch patrol position.
“If you need help, you would want other people to help you like you help them,” said Walker.
“They're learning how to be proactive, how to take charge of their learning, and how to be responsible for themselves,” said York.
The program has been so successful, a discipline teacher's job description has been re-written.
“We've retitled it to a refocus room and that person comes in and helps students if they need to get some work done,” said Heather Deering, current principal of Country Estates Elementary School. “Sometimes our kids come to us and they've had a really bad day. It makes it hard for them to come in and learn and get their work done.”
Students are given an incentive to attend school daily. Each day a classroom does not have an absent student, that classroom earns a letter in the word “LEADER.” Once the class completely spells “LEADER,” students are rewarded.
Along with academics, a student’s wellbeing is the top priority.
“We want to be able to give kids tools that when adults aren't around to help them, they know how to take care of the situation in the right way to be proactive to make sure that they are not being put in a situation that would get them in trouble,” said Deering.
Country Estate Elementary School is in its third and final year of the program. Administrators are working right now to try to get the program extended.