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LYA’s Leader in Me program begins with summer training

Date: 8/22/2011

LONGMEADOW — As students and teachers enter Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy (LYA) for the 2011-12 school year, they will embark upon an exciting leadership journey.

This journey is school wide and includes the administration, parents and non-teaching staff. Individually and together LYA, will learn the seven habits of highly effective people with the goal of helping students be effective in their lives, achieve their goals and become competent, confident leaders.

This summer the entire LYA staff participated in a community training based on Steven Covey’s work, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The workshop served as preparation for implementing The Leader in Me program at LYA. LYA staff continue to practice the seven habits over the summer. When they greet their students in the fall, they will begin the process of incorporating the Leader in Me at LYA to produce a community of leaders.

The Leader in Me, is being launched in the Jewish community in Western Massachusetts in partnership with local philanthropist Diane Troderman, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts. This program, administered by the Resource Center for Jewish Education, is being launched throughout schools in the Jewish community, including LYA and Heritage Academy, both of Longmeadow, Lander Grinspoon Academy in Northampton, and the Springfield Jewish Community Center Preschool. The Leader in Me provides Jewish day school and preschools with a unique development tool.

“I’m thrilled to help bring this unique opportunity to our Jewish community to prepare our students to excel with the skills they need in an ever-changing world,” Troderman said. “This program gives us a common language in which to communicate between parents, teachers, administrators, and the community. It helps us to achieve academic excellence.”

The first community wide training in June drew educators and lay leadership from the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Resource Center for Jewish Education, as well as the entire staff of LYA. It was led by Gary McGuey, a consultant for FranklinCovey’s educational program.

The main objectives of the program and the goal for the faculty and the community are for them to “discover a new paradigm of leadership, experience a transformational leadership model that enables greatness, and create a vision for the impact you can have,” Troderman said.

The proven result of this program is a school filled with students who are responsible, who show initiative, who are creative and who know how to set goals and meet them. In addition, the program seeks to produce students who get along with people of various backgrounds and cultures, and who can resolve conflict and solve problems on their own.

The Leader in Me is based on the proven principle-based leadership skills found in Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” This innovative program develops essential life skills and characteristics students need in order to thrive in the 21st century.

It is designed to be integrated into a school’s core curriculum, and produces transformational results including higher academic achievement; fewer discipline problems, and an increased engagement between teachers and parents. “Our program’s goal is to develop 21st century citizens. To give them a set of skills and illustrate to them that the focus shouldn’t be solely on academics,” one teacher said. “We ask them to ponder the question, ‘What would our ideal school look like?’”

The Leader in Me began in 1999 when the struggling A.B. Combs Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C., was asked to reinvent itself or be shut down. When principal Muriel Summers asked parents and business leaders what they wanted in their schools, the feedback included leadership, accountability, adaptability, responsibility, and other qualities. It represents what most people believe — that schools should not merely be focused on improving test scores, but should provide opportunities for students to develop their full potential. When she attended a 7 Habits seminar, she noticed how comprehensive the habits were in covering the same needs expressed by her community.

She and her staff developed a leadership theme and a school mission statement: To Develop Leaders, One Child at a Time. They integrated the 7 Habits into the curriculum, traditions and culture of A.B. Combs. By 2006, A.B. Combs had become 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 community. Today LYA joins the 566 leadership schools in the world.

“At LYA we feel blessed that Diane Troderman is helping us bring this leadership model to the community. LYA’s commitment is to bring this common language of the Covey leadership program to the community and to all of the local schools,” said Rochel Leah Kosofsky, LYA staff member who was instrumental in organizing The Leader in Me at LYA.

The main objective of The Leader in Me educational program is to have the community and the schools discover a new paradigm of leadership, and experience a transformation. “We’re really excited about the process and opportunity. We’re looking to reflect on what we’ve already done, and what we can be doing now in order to improve and build on our foundations,” Kosofsky said.

“It puts a lens on what it really means to be a leader and being a ‘leader’ in a way that’s about valuing every single child, and it’s so closely related to everything that is Jewish wisdom,” Troderman said. “If the community and faculty of our local schools can adopt these principles, and show by example, it will make for a dramatic improvement among our schools, students, and educators in our community. It’s a gift to anybody that takes this course.”

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