Vicksburg Warren School District and Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce - "The Leader in Me" school transformation initiative

Duration of partnership: 5 yrs
430+ volunteers
Impacts 708 students

In 2008, the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce acknowledged that one of the most important ways they could increase community competitiveness was to help schools improve student performance. Members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and staff learned about an initiative that was producing great results in other elementary schools around the country called The Leader In Me.
 
The Leader in Me is a whole-school transformation model that is based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Its goal is to produce transformational results such as higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems, and increased engagement among teachers and parents. This initiative is not a curriculum, but rather a model that results in a shift in the cultural mindset of teachers, students, staff and parents.
 
The Leader In Me focuses on shifting leadership roles in a school to students in areas such as parent-teacher conferences, tracking data, setting personal and academic goals, public speaking, creating action teams and actively working together to resolve disputes.
 
Because the Leader In Me process works to transform school culture, assigning this process to a school solely based on needs and not on willingness and readiness to participate will almost always result in failure. For success, all stakeholders must be committed to transformation. To that end, the Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee devised a process that encouraged schools to make presentations to an evaluation panel that would determine their interest and readiness to participate in the initiative.
 
Four schools made presentations in spring 2011. The panel recommended that the Chamber fund the initiative in two schools — Bovina Elementary and Bowmar Avenue Elementary. The Chamber went to work fundraising for both schools and quickly secured funding to begin training. Schools began their training with Franklin Covey over the summer of 2011.
 
Implementation of the Leader in Me initiative encompassed three years, with the most training given in the first year. All staff members participated, including teachers, teachers' assistants, and administrative personnel. A three-day staff training workshop held in the summer was attended by educators and staff on their own time — a true testament to their dedication and commitment to The Leader In Me initiative.
 
Since the full launch of initiative, schools have recorded significant reductions in discipline referrals, absences and tardiness, while student test scores have been steadily climbing. The success has been so dramatic that the Chamber of Commerce has already raised funds to implement The Leader In Me in an additional Warren County school.