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A Culture of Leadership

The Leader in Me is a whole-school culture model that is grounded in timeless principles of personal effectiveness. Based on Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s landmark book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Leader in Me equips students with the character based principles that develop into leadership habits.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey was recognized as one of the world’s foremost leadership authorities, organizational experts, and thought leaders. In his lifetime, Dr. Covey received numerous accolades including being recognized as one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans and the book was recognized by Forbes as one of the top 10 most influential management books ever.

The Leader in Me process, adopts this timeless material into the school and classroom. It has become a proven model that engages the whole child and fosters not only academic excellence, but excellence of character as well. The full integration and creation of The Leader Me program, started in 1999 when struggling school A.B. Combs Elementary was asked to reinvent itself or be shut down. When Principal Muriel Summers asked parents and business leaders what they wanted in their schools, she heard the following:

  • Leadership
  • Accountability
  • Adaptability
  • Initiative and Self-Direction
  • Responsibility
  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Teamwork

This feedback represents what most people believe — that our schools should not merely be focused on improving test scores, but should provide opportunities for students to develop their full potential. As Muriel searched for answers, she attended a 7 Habits workshop and noticed how comprehensive the habits were in covering the same needs expressed by her community. She and staff developed a leadership theme and a school mission statement: To Develop Leaders, One Child at a Time. They taught the 7 Habits not as a curriculum, but in a ubiquitous fashion, integrating them into the curriculum, traditions, systems, and culture of A.B. Combs.

In 2006, A.B. Combs became the #1 magnet school in the country. The leadership model began to be replicated by other schools with similar results. In 2008, Dr. Stephen R. Covey published the book The Leader in Me, which documents the leadership model these schools pioneered and its outcomes for staff, students, parents, and the community.