'More Proactive': Leadership on Display at Academy of Moore
Leadership, responsibility and student unity were among the qualities showcased Friday when the Academy of Moore County held its first ever Leadership Day for the public.
More than 200 kindergarten through fifth-grade students and faculty members took part in the program, which featured skits, school tours, songs and “stations” that highlighted ongoing projects.
The theme of the program focused on the school’s accomplishments following its transition to a School of Leadership, one of a number of schools nationally that have adopted author Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” as a curriculum model.
Allyson Schoen, director of education at the school, said the change from a standard curriculum has proven to be so successful that the students now “own” the program.
“Becoming a School of Leadership is the best thing we could’ve done,” Schoen said. “The staff is 110 percent behind it and the students have a greater sense of ownership and responsibility for their actions, good and bad. They recognize when they should’ve been more proactive, and the students work together better than they did before. It’s synergy.”
Schoen said the program was chosen because the Academy “needed change.”
“With a low performance in academics, inadequate facilities and the possibility of losing our state charter in 2010, we needed to do something different,” she said. “In 2010, leadership facilitator Gail Cunningham became familiar with the program and shared it with us. We ended up taking a weeklong training in how the program works, and became convinced that this was the right direction for our school. It’s the best thing we could’ve done. The students and faculty love it.”
Visitors gathered in the school’s gymnasium. After Schoen’s opening remarks, the students performed a skit featuring fourth-grader Isabel Brunner as a student indecisive about her responsibilities.
“I’m so tired I don’t want to get up,” Isabella said from her bed on stage. Hearing this, a student portraying the “fairy of bad choices,” Elijah McCormick, entered stage left.
“You don’t have to get up or do your paper,” he said. “Go back to sleep.”
As she began to nod off, the “fairy of good choices,” played by Maddyson Boggs, arrived on the scene.
“Make a decision,” she said. “Are you going to get up, brush your teeth and finish the paper, or go back to sleep?”
Student moderator Lexie Howell asked audience members to help her decide. “What should she do?”
“Get up,” audience members said.
“I don’t want to get up, but I have to make the right decision,” Isabel said as she rose from bed to applause from the audience while the bad fairy shook his head in disapproval.
Steven Dougherty, OEM Sales Manager of Golf Pride Grips at the Eaton Corp., praised the school for its leadership program.
“We are always looking for leaders, and the ‘Seven Habits’ come out naturally in those who have that skill set,” he said. “When kids from this school come out to Eaton to sing Christmas carols each year, their self esteem and confidence is apparent. It’s great that the school is giving kids this opportunity.”
Cunningham said the program was designed with the thought, “If Mr. Covey was here, what would he want to see?”
“Every child is a leader here, and we stress empowerment to effect positivechanges in them both in school and outside. We hope you can feel the culture as you visit with us today. We stress giving the children the self knowledge that they have a talent that can be nurtured, pulled out, and expanded upon. We also stress etiquette, good manners, and community involvement.”
In 2011, Academy students raised $1,200 for a local food bank to supply Christmas turkeys.
Cunningham thanked the parents of Academy children for “all they have done” to ensure that the students achieve success.
Parent Sandra Ballester returned the compliment to school officials.
“I love this school, and I love the open door policy,” Ballester said. “It’s like a family here. Every teacher tries their best for the students.”
Ballester said she enrolled her son Eric, now a fifth-grader, after hearing good things about the school.
“We are a military family, and when we moved here from Florida two years ago we heard such good things about the school, we decided to visit. I watched how Alysson (Schoen) interacted with the kids and was super impressed. I would absolutely recommend this school to others.”
Faculty member Rachel Dalisay teaches math and science at the Academy.
“I think this school is awesome,” she said. “I have been here for two years with a total of five years of teaching experience. It is a very proactive, win-win environment for the kids, and speaks to who the children are as a person and how they can be the best they can be. The kids are very excited, and take the responsibility and ownership approach very seriously.”
Dalisay said that becoming a leadership school caused a “huge change” academically in the students.
“End-of-grade scores are up, and we have achieved a 100 percent adequate yearly progress report,” she said. “Last year we were a ‘School of Progress,’ and our goal now is to be a ‘School of Excellence,’ the highest category a school can achieve.”
The tour of the school included a visit to the school gardens, classroom visitation, refreshments with a slide show, and a stop at various stations that highlighted student achievement. These included a data notebook station, where students showed examples of logs kept to mark their academic progress; a letter station, which Cunningham called a “written self-portrait” for the students to record how they used their leadership skills; and a “Seven Habits” station, where students familiarized the public with each segment of Covey’s leadership model.
Fifth-grader Ben Carpenter represented Habit Number One: Be Proactive.
“I do not blame others for my actions,” he said. “I do without being asked.”
Contact John Lentz at email@example.com.
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