Glenn Marshall Elementary teacher Melissa Sandusky stood in front of students during the afternoon assembly to check off her “to-do” list. Her top priority was listed as “homework,” with “chores” and “play” coming in second and third.

This was one of a series of skits teachers performed Monday to give students examples of leadership and how they correlate with the “7 Habits of Happy Kids.” Sandusky was showing students the third habit, how to “Put First Things First.”

The assembly was called to announce the launch of the new “Leader in Me” program, which is based on the 1989 self-help book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.

The Habits are:

• Be Proactive

• Begin with the End in Mind

• Put First Things First

• Think Win-Win

• Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

• Synergize, and

• Sharpen the Saw.

Having received training this summer, teachers and staff are beginning a three-year plan that will foster an environment that is positive, motivating and develops 21st century leadership skills, said Principal Abby White.

Glenn Marshall will be the district’s first “Leader in Me” school.

“It’s about recognizing that each child has a special gift; a special leadership quality,” she said. “We want to teach kids the leadership skills that will help them through middle/high school and into adulthood.”

The school has even changed its mission statement to: “Inspiring leaders through learning,” she said.

Richmond Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mendi Goble told students Monday that she uses the Seven Habits daily at her job.

Goble has been working with White over the past year to find funding for the $40,000 program and eventually secured federal funds through the Bluegrass Area Development District.

From a business perspective, Goble said the chamber has good reason to support the “Leader in Me” model.

The Seven Habits will promote leadership qualities and confidence, keys to building “soft skills” needed when graduates enter the workforce, she said.

Knowing how to conduct a conversation over the phone, social media etiquette or properly presenting oneself during a job interview are all examples of “soft skills,” Goble said.

A recent survey of 73 local businesses and industry revealed that the No. 1 problem employers have with the young workforce is lack of “soft skills,” she said.

Beginning this year, every freshman in the county district will take a 12-week course to sharpen their soft skills, build a resume and interact with Madison County employers, she said. But in the meantime, every Glenn Marshall student will begin working on those skills now, from kindergarten and on up. 

To help the elementary school with the initiative, Goble sought guidance from the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, which is “leading the way” in supporting the transformation of every elementary school in Warren County into a “Leader in Me” school.

Berea implemented leadership program last year

Representatives from Berea Independent Schools drew inspiration after visiting a Bowling Green “Leader in Me” school and began the program in its elementary school last year.

Superintendent Mike Hogg said the Seven Habits seemed to match up with the district’s goals for its students. In addition to advancing students academically, Berea wants to shape citizens who are “compassionate, critical thinkers and civically engaged,” Hogg said.

“Leader in Me” is not just another program, he said, it “impacts the culture of the school.”

Middle and high school teachers will begin implementing the program this year, which Hogg said will make Berea the only school district in the state using the “Leader in Me” program K-12.

“Beginning With the End in Mind” is a good habit for upperclassmen preparing to be college- and career-ready, Hogg said. “You might have a goal to attend Yale, but what are the steps to get you there? This is about empowering kids to be in control of their own destiny.”

He said since the program’s launch last year, both adults and children alike talk about the Seven Habits, emphasize them in the classroom and “make them a part of what we do.”

The whole-school model empowers children to initiate their own projects and “develop ideas for how they can help each other and help the community,” he said.

Last year, students initiated book drives, coat drives, food drives “and more service projects than we could possibly do,” Hogg said.

Students have taken over many leadership positions throughout the school, such as conducting the morning meeting in the gymnasium, passing around hand-outs, collecting notebooks or leading assemblies.

At Glenn Marshall Elementary, fifth-grade leaders gave Madison County Schools Superintendent Elmer Thomas and Chief Academic Officer David Gilliam a guided tour of the school on Friday, White said.

Students will be asked to take on more leadership roles as Glenn Marshall Elementary progresses through its three-year plan, she said.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at or 623-1669, Ext. 6696


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