The Leader in Me Lighthouse Committee of Jones Intermediate School has melded words and actions into an inspirational sign project for the school’s entrance.
Principal Jason Dorsett explained that the project began last school year after school system Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little and the Mount Airy Board of Education decided to make Jones School a Leader in Me School. Dorsett, who has served as an assistant principal at Mount Airy High School for four and a half years, was not familiar with the program.
“My staff and I were in the process of learning the program,” explained Dorsett. “I was not sure the direction it would take us in because we were starting something new. From day one hour one, we knew this process was exactly what our school needed.”
He said the feeling of all involved was that you can’t miss with the goal of developing leadership in children as one of your goals. Dorsett said that the group has to first understand itself. There was a lot of self analysis and reflection.
“That’s really powerful when that happens,” added Dorsett. “We began talking about the seven skills of highly effective people. We began to look at appearances inside and outside of the building and how the staff could model the behaviors for students.”
The entire staff participated in a three-day training seminar during the summer and the lighthouse committee was formed a day after the training. This committee was composed of individuals from all grade levels at the school and was a mixture of veteran teachers, new teachers and veteran and new staff members. The group talked and brainstormed about doing something that would have an immediate impact.
Shortly after the committee was formed, the idea hit them. The orderly, bare space outside the school was a perfect space for communication. Committee members decided that identifying the school mission statement and motto outside the school would tell the returning students something big was happening. Dorsett said that Interstate Signs helped with the sign project.
“We decided then we needed something and we were going to work on it. Non-stop emails continued all summer and we knew we needed a sign that addressed what we were doing,” said Dorsett. “We researched leadership quotes. The result is that the signs were a perfect fit. It seems like what we’ve done was meant to be there.”
Learning Leading Succeeding is the mission statement put on the main sign. Other leadership quotes were placed on the entrance cross beams. Students getting off the buses would notice the signs at the beginning of the day and as they leave.
“Now students and staff are beginning to transform things inside the building,” said Dorsett. “My favorite saying is that working together we can accomplish better. We’re on the right track.” He said he has already noticed students holding doors and helping each other more.
“I want to commend our staff who have bought into this process,” said Dorsett. “They believe it will make a difference and with their efforts we are making a difference. We are fortunate at Jones to have a caring and dedicated staff. They are focused on doing what’s best for students. What’s exciting about this is that it’s something for the rest of our students’ lives.”
Jones’ efforts have been helped by third- and fourth-grade students who attended B.H. Tharrington Primary School when they were younger. At Tharrington, the Leader in Me program is in its third year this school year. Dorsett explained that the program’s elements include listening, values, appreciating different perspectives and the seven habits of highly effective people.
He said that signs using the language of leadership have been posted inside the building by teachers.
Lighthouse Committee member and teacher Cindy Phillips said that although it is still early students have understood the seven habits in daily talks with teachers.
“This program is such a self-esteem builder,” commented Phillips. “This shows students they are a big part of school. They have a voice. It has been a change for them, too. The third-graders coming to us from Tharrington are already experienced in it, but it’s a new mind set for everyone. I can see positive things happening already.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org ore 719-1952.