Creekside students teach about seven healthy habits
June 4, 2013
By Lillian O'Rorke
Before Creekside Elementary School first opened its doors in 2010, Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” had already taken root in the building. Now nearly three years later, students there celebrated the adoption of the habits into their lives May 30 by hosting Leadership Day.
“The seven habits, they kind of teach you better learning skills and to have better behavior. And it really helps you throughout the school year,” said Jacob Stout, who attends third grade at Creekside.
“Like, a month ago, when I really didn’t want to do something that my friend wanted to do, think win-win, so we both decided on something that we wanted to do,” he explained. “Like, make it so that it’s fair to both people, so that you both like it.”
Stout was referring to habit No. 4, which suggests abandoning an I-win-you-lose mindset and instead seeking situations that benefit everyone involved.
During Leadership Day, which included performances by the school’s choir, the students presented the seven habits to nearly 100 community guests, led adults on classroom tours and hosted a panel discussion.
“It was much more student-led today,” said Judy Bowlby, dean of students. While the school held a similar event last year along with several parent-education nights, she explained, this time around the goal was to bring out the student’s leadership potential, as well as build their self-esteem.
“This year we kind of handed it to the kids,” she added. “They are pretty knowledgeable on it. They get it. And it’s fun. They are very proud.”
They have come a long way from the summer of 2010, when the brand new school’s principal, Robin Earl, invited the staff to do a book study of Covey’s work. By the following spring, Panda Corporation approved a three-year grant to implement “The Leader in Me” process in the school.
“We use the seven habit language a lot when we are doing lessons. It might be ‘begin with the end in mind’ — what do we want this project to look like,” Bowlby explained. “When I work with students about making choices, we’ll do a seek-to-understand table often, where we can really hear everyone’s voice and kind of their perspective on things, and that can be very enlightening.”
One of the stops on the classroom tours May 30 was Cherie Dodd’s second grade. There, Dodd was using a twist on the Three Little Pigs story to teach her students about habit No. 5, seek first to understand, then to be understood.
“If you don’t think the wolf has a very good explanation or something, then you shouldn’t just say to the wolf ‘I don’t like your idea. You can’t tell it to me,’” explained 8-year-old Henrietta McClelland. “You should just listen and then talk to your self. ‘Now I think that your idea is better, because my idea didn’t really make sense.”
Leading the tour to Dodd’s classroom, was Kana Kardong, 9. She wants to be either a teacher or a scientist when she grows up and said the seven habits will help her even then.
“If I wanted to be a scientist, synergy [habit No. 6] might be good because people could help me work out new problems and stuff,” Kardong said. “And I think that putting first things first [habit No. 3] with homework would help a lot too, because if you are going to be a teacher, you have to know a lot about math and that stuff. So the habits, I think would come in handy.”
Besides a few parents sprinkled throughout the crowd, most of the 100 guests that day were community leaders, including those in business and politics. Nearly one dozen area school districts were also represented.
“It’s a celebration,” said Earl. “It’s a way for the students to showcase some of the things they have learned. But it’s not just enough to learn it. They want to teach it.”
One of the guests who came to see what they could gain from the young students was Elaine Schield, who teachers sixth grade leadership at Eastside Catholic Middle School.
Her principal suggested she attend Creekside’s Leadership Day for ideas for her own school’s leadership club.
After the classroom tours, Schield said she wants to use Covey’s book with her students.
“I think it could make the kids have more ownership over their responsibility,” she said.
“I’ve never been in an elementary school since I was in elementary. I am just really impressed with how intelligent these kids are,” she added. “All these kids are so talented: Musically. They are good at speaking. I am impressed with their reading skills.”