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Hurricane Town earns lighthouse designation

May. 10, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HURRICANE -- A visitor's experience at Hurricane Town Elementary is likely to be a little different than at many other schools.

A 5-year-old may greet you with a handshake, introduce themself and welcome you to the school -- maybe even offer to guide you to your destination.

As you walk the halls, you will see individual student mission statements, evidence of service projects, and multiple references to leadership. Then there are the habits developed by Dr. Stephen Covey to enhance personal and professional effectiveness: Be Proactive; Begin with the End in Mind; Put First Things First; Think Win-Win; Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood; Synergize; Sharpen the Saw; and Find Your Voice.

These same habits are everywhere -- in student work, classroom goals, leadership notebooks, classroom leadership "jobs." They are in the hallways, the classrooms, the lunchroom, and outside the building. More importantly, though, they are in the behavior, attitudes, and skills of Hurricane Town students and staff.

Three years ago, principal Debbie Spicer met Muriel Summers, principal at A. B. Combs Elementary in Raleigh, N.C., and author of "The Leader in Me," the story of her school's journey to becoming one of the most acclaimed leadership institutions in the world.

That meeting proved fateful for Hurricane Town Elementary and Putnam County Schools. From that day, it has been Spicer's mission to give Hurricane Town students the same leadership advantage, and her mission became the vision that guided the school to Leader in Me Lighthouse Status, a designation earned by only about 40 schools in the world.

Since implementing The Leader in Me, Hurricane Town's attendance is better; discipline is better; classroom achievement is better; school spirit and pride are better. Students are able to look you in the eye when they speak, articulate their goals, and explain the steps they must take to attain them. They track their progress and schedule their improvement efforts. They work together and believe in service.

Today, the leadership of every child and staff member at Hurricane Town is in the spotlight in Putnam County and West Virginia. It has become a Lighthouse School that leads the way for other schools that wish to equip their students with the best tools to navigate the 21st Century.

Putnam County Schools has made a commitment to share the opportunity. Over three years, all of Putnam's elementary schools will become Leader in Me schools, the first school district to work with Franklin-Covey to create a district-wide leadership model. Eventually, the partnership will investigate implementing at the secondary levels, as well.

In the meantime, if you have a chance, stop in at Hurricane Town Elementary. See what children can do and be when they are equipped with the tools they need to be leaders. You are looking and the future, and it is promising.

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