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Student leadership initiative launches at four elementary schools

Leader In Me McBrayer Elementary School

Leader In Me McBrayer Elementary School

Four elementary schools in Southern and Eastern Kentucky have been selected by Forward in the Fifth and The Center for Rural Development to pilot a new student leadership initiative that aims to help today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders.

The initiative, based on the book, “The Leader in Me,” by best-selling author Stephen Covey, will provide basic leadership skills and opportunities for thousands of elementary students in Bell, Clay, Monroe, and Rowan counties.

Pilot schools targeted to launch Forward in the Fifth’s “The Leader in Me” initiative include: Pineville Elementary School, Bell County; Big Creek Elementary, Clay County; McBrayer Elementary, Rowan County; and Gamaliel Elementary, Monroe County.

“Forward in the Fifth and The Center are excited to partner with these schools in further developing student leaders for the 21st Century,” said Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth. “We are striving to build an even stronger foundation for Southern and Eastern Kentucky’s future.”

“The Leader in Me” initiative is a school-wide leadership development process that works to change the culture from within a school using common language and behavior expectations based on Covey’s seven leadership habits for personal growth.

Covey first gained national attention in 1989 when he published his best-selling, self-help book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. “The Leader In Me” initiative takes those same seven habits and breaks down the language so that children of all ages can understand how to develop effective leadership skills.

“The most promising students achieve more than academic success. They make good choices and act responsible,” said U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05), the visionary behind Forward in the Fifth’s creation in 1986. “This program takes learning beyond books and invests in the value of self-confidence and good habits.”

Forward in the Fifth, a nonprofit organization and affiliate of The Center, was founded by Rogers and other regional leaders to help raise the educational attainment levels in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

The initiative is also an extension of The Center’s work in its Leadership focus area. This focus involves helping the region’s youth build leadership and entrepreneurial skills through the annual Rogers Scholars, Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI), and Rogers Explorers summer programs.

“If we can give our young people, starting with elementary students, the tools they need to be successful and productive adults, we can begin to change this region for future generations,” said Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center. “Rogers Scholars and our other youth programs encourage graduates to change Southern and Eastern Kentucky for the better by building their lives and careers here.”

During the next few months, Forward in the Fifth will be working with the Kentucky Educational Development Corporation (KEDC) to provide training for administrators, educators and support staff within the four “The Leader in Me” pilot schools.

After completion of the training sessions, the leadership initiative will be launched at each respective school and incorporated into the classroom curriculum and overall school culture.

Students will be taught basic leadership skills, among them, personal responsibility, taking initiative, prioritizing, compromise, intentional listening, and managing time wisely.

“In a changing world, employers are seeking employees who meet the needs of a global economy with strong communication, creative, and problem-solving skills,” Tackett said. “The premise is, if Covey’s seven habits are developed early in the school setting, they will become fully integrated in adulthood in the work setting.”

“The Leader in Me” initiative, which is expected to take up to three years for full implementation, is funded in part from a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

For more information about “The Leader in Me” initiative, contact Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth, at 606-677-6000 or email us.

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