Leader in Me Lighthouse School: Maricopa Elementary

  • By Barbara Augsdorfer - Contributing Writer for The Maricopa Monitor

    MARICOPA — Schools are measured by any number of criteria – how well students do on standardized tests is the big one. Are the students learning? What are they learning? How well do they know the material? Are they learning necessary life skills?

    As any parent and educator can attest, there is more to learning than what is in books. Becoming a successful person in the highly technological and social media age that is the 21st century takes more than book smarts. That is where the Leader in Me program and designation picks up.

    To be successful, everyone has to buy in to the program. It has to become personal. The students, staff, teachers and parents at Maricopa Elementary School have done just that.

    In February, the school was notified that it had earned the Leader in Me Lighthouse designation. The award was the culmination of three years of hard work implementing the steps to meet Leader in Me goals in academics, culture and leadership.

    “We are honored to have been certified and named a Leader in Me Lighthouse School,” said Dr. Jennifer Robinson, principal of Maricopa Elementary School. “We have seen amazing results from implementing the Leader in Me process at our school, such as increased leadership roles for our scholars, greater awareness of school-wide goals through implementing leadership notebooks and increased parent engagement through Leadership Cafes.”

    Leader in Me is a whole-school transformation model and process, developed in partnership with educators, that empowers scholars with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. Leader in Me helps students learn how to become self-reliant, take initiative, plan ahead, set and track goals, do their homework, prioritize their time, manage their emotions, be considerate of others, express their viewpoint persuasively, resolve conflicts, find creative solutions, value differences, and live a balanced life.

    Robinson shared one example of a scholar who was withdrawn and had difficultly engaging in discussions. Now he is mediating conversation with his peers, coming up with “win-win” solutions and has taken on the role of Win-Win mediator at his grade.

    Parents and the public were invited to the Leadership Day celebration at the school on May 11. Scholars had significant roles in assisting guests during tours and presentations. “Scholars on Special Assignment” lead tours through the classrooms, where students showed their Leadership Notebooks and “Wildly Important Goals.” A big part of the student ownership of the Leader in Me program is that scholars set their own goals, determine steps to meet those goals, and keep track of their progress.

    The Lighthouse Certification is a highly regarded standard set by Franklin Covey Education that is attainable by every Leader in Me school. As it is a significant benchmark, applying for this certification typically occurs three to five years after a school begins the Leader in Me process.

    According to the Leader in Me website, only 2,840 schools throughout the US are Leader in Me schools. Of those, 341 are Lighthouse schools, and of those, Maricopa Elementary is one of only five schools in Arizona with that highest distinction.

    “Schools who achieve this Lighthouse Certification are great examples of a strong leadership model and process, and of what it means to be a Leader in Me school.,” said Sean Covey, President of Franklin Covey Education. “This school has experienced transformational results by implementing the principles and practices related to Leader in Me.”

    The Leader in Me framework relies on five main paradigm shifts: Instead of only a few leaders, everyone can be a leader; instead of “only a few are gifted,” everyone has genius; instead of waiting for “the system” to change, “change starts with me;” instead of educators controlling and dictating student learning, educators empower students to lead their own learning; and in addition to focusing solely on academics, Leader in Me schools develop the whole person — emotionally, physically and mentally. Leader in Me schools include education in art, music, and dance.

    Maricopa Elementary School will maintain its Lighthouse Certification the next two years. At the end of the two years, Maricopa Elementary School will be able to re-certify its Lighthouse Certification through a virtual self-assessment, describing and celebrating its growth and accomplishments since its original Lighthouse designation.