Teens pick up ‘highly effective’ habits
By DIANE SAMSON
Crestview Middle School is off and running this fall with a program called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.” The school won a $65,325 grant from the I Am A Leader Foundation last summer, which provides program resources for staff and student training, books, activity guides and other supplies. The grant also includes a Lighthouse Coach who provides training for the school.
The 7 Habits program has been shown in other schools to increase student self-confidence, teacher and parent engagement as well as elevate student achievement, among other benefits, including a marked decrease in disciplinary issues.
Already Crestview student artists are covering the hallways with murals depicting the principles of the program, which teach students valuable life lessons.
When Principal Dr. Jill Schuelen first introduced the 7 Habits vision to the Crestview staff, she received a tremendous response.
“We had over 70 Crestview staff members give up one week of their summer to get trained on the program,” Schuelen said.
The staff was so committed to bringing this program to Crestview that they were trained before the school was even awarded the grant. Schuelen said they were going to find a way to make it happen at Crestview regardless, but it was a windfall when they received news of the grant.
“The staff at Crestview has a level of humility and a drive for excellence that is a perfect combination for students,” Dustin Odham, client partner for I Am A Leader Foundation, said. “We believe in Crestview because even with a 1,200-student school, their focus is on each student. They know them by name and believe every student is important and can be a leader in their area.”
Odham said he has been to hundreds of schools and Crestview is rare in that level of commitment and focus on each student.
“We awarded the grant to Crestview because it helps them accomplish what they’ve been wanting to do on their own for years,” Odham said.
Crestview is developing a Lighthouse team of 14 staff and parents made up of nine subcommittees to implement the program. Every child will receive a leadership binder to track their goals in many areas of their lives. The goal is to teach students to be responsible for themselves academically, physically and emotionally and to build positive working relationships with others. The training is not just for middle school, Schuelen said.
“We want every child to have a mission for their lives by setting personal and academic goals to meet their dreams,” she said. “This is for high school and beyond.”
Examples of leadership opportunities include Library Leaders, who helped to introduce Crestview’s new library to the student body. They had the idea to organize a drawing for students to win a new Kindle Fire for checking out a book. Library Leaders also helped during the library’s grand opening by giving tours and serving refreshments to the community.
“Students who in the past may not have been involved in a leadership role at school are finding their niche as Library Leaders,” said Bridget DuMont, Crestview librarian. “It’s been exciting to see the enthusiasm of these students.”
Odham also is connecting Crestview to middle schools in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa.
“As I meet people who are excited to make the same changes in their schools, I want them to meet the folks at Crestview,” Odham said. “The community is fortunate to have a staff of trailblazers at Crestview.”