Introduction

Great things are happening in Ohio schools. Our teachers care deeply about their students, our pupils truly want to succeed, and our district and school staffs are setting examples of resourceful, visionary leadership for all of us. The State Board of Education’s Education Spotlight program challenges board members to identify outstanding districts, schools, teachers and students in their state board districts and showcase them at monthly board meetings. We think you, too, will be inspired!


October 2018

Bellefontaine Intermediate School

BELLEFONTAINE INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL Presentation“You don’t have to be an adult to make a difference,” said Hayden Maus, Bellefontaine Intermediate School student.

Students at Bellefontaine Intermediate School are on a leadership quest that is having dramatic results. The school adopted the Leader in Me program with grant funding after a team of teachers sought a program that could help them balance academic development with character and leadership development. The Leader in Me provided a foundation that makes this work intentional and buildingwide. Prior to accepting the board’s Education Spotlight Award at the October 2018 meeting, a student team from Bellefontaine Intermediate school shared how the Leader in Me program is impacting them, their school community and the community at large. Madi Zedeker started by sharing information about her school. She then introduced the rest of her team to share their work.

Leader in Me is an evidence-based character and leadership development program built on seven habits. The first three habits are private habits that build prosocial behaviors and help students visualize goals and build pathways to achieve them. The second three habits are public habits that build conflict resolution and communication skills. The final habit, sharpen the saw, helps students create healthy and balanced lifestyles.

The students provided eloquent testimonials about how the program has empowered them and positively impacted their lives. Sloan Stolly shared how she uses the “put first things first” strategy to help her get her homework done. Jack Wilson shared how “thinking win-win” and “seeking first to understand” has helped him resolve conflicts in and out of class. Students are balancing their time, setting goals and achieving more, as evidenced by the school’s rising report card grades.

Next, the team shared how the program is impacting school culture. Leader in Me at Bellefontaine Intermediate School is led by fifth-grader Ellie Lang and includes a 22-member Student Lighthouse Team. Each Monday, Ellie creates an agenda, runs the meeting and facilitates decision-making. The group set six goals and uses a Gantt chart to track action steps and progress. To date, the team has met both its quarterly goals: to increase membership and improve school climate. To achieve the first goal, the team put all the Leader in Me principles to work and created a protocol that includes a written application, interview and collaborative activity for students who wish to demonstrate their leadership capacity and join the team.

Hayden Maus shared how the team approached its second goal to improve school climate. The team created the following mission statement: As leaders, the Student Lighthouse Team will make a difference in our school by making kids feel safe, happy and involved. To achieve this mission, the leaders started a new club, the Nice Society Savers and began the “Start with Hello” campaign, which encourages students to introduce themselves to each other and to prevent anyone from feeling left out. Students are asked to sign a pledge stating, “I pledge to include and respect people who are different from me. I will not leave them out on purpose.” T-shirts and posters are in development as well.

A former student attended the meeting to share the long-term impact of the Leader in Me program and how he applied it to make a difference in his community. After watching his brother with special needs struggle to use playground equipment at the community park, Jack Varner took action and “began with the end in mind.” He put together a proposal to build a Dare to be Aware playground, where all children can play together, regardless of disability. He researched grants, partnered with the parks and recreation department and held fundraisers, including a comedy night. He formed a committee and has raised around $40,000 to date. Jack walked through each step of his process and how he applied the seven habits to make this dream come true.

Bellefontaine’s implementation of the Leader in Me program demonstrates that a commitment to both leadership and high academic achievement can have exponential impact on students, their schools and their communities.

Last Modified: 10/23/2018 5:19:35 PM