Is leadership skill as critical as any other academic area of study? Ask Spring Branch ISD (SBISD) Principal Julie Baggerly, and you’ll hear a resounding yes.
This month her school celebrated the kick-off of a leadership program that promises to boost student achievement by focusing on developing the social-emotional skills and leadership of every member of the school community – adults and students alike. The school held a recent ribbon-cutting in early October for the Leader in Me program.
Supporting social-emotional learning at all levels is a priority in SBISD. Through Leader in Me, educators, students, and families at Shadow Oaks will receive supports designed to improve school behavior, increase staff readiness to model effective social-emotional behaviors, foster student leadership, and deepen family involvement.
Program data boasts positive impact in the areas of student attendance, college and career readiness, bullying, mental health practices, and data-driven performance, to name a few.
Part of the Steven Covey brand, the program is one of several elementary social-emotional support models being used in SBISD. Social-emotional support is a district priority and measured annually by Panorama. While district Panorama data is good, there is always room to improve.
For Baggerly, Leader in Me is an opportunity to build her campus support model with the goals of increased parent engagement and student achievement. Only in its first month, the program’s already delivered.
At a recent school Parent Night, parent attendance numbers were up. Baggerly attribute the change to Leader in Me.
“Usually, we see low turnout for parent events. This time our kids were deeply involved in leading the planning and communication about Parent Night. That leadership made a difference. Kids owning the message made a difference. They were excited, and that excitement influenced their parents. It made an impact.” said Baggerly.
Another impact? Increased partner support. SBISD Good Neighbor Texas Mutual saw what the school was doing and generously stepped up to underwrite program materials in the form of safety vests and cones. Both of which were handed out during the program ribbon-cutting celebration. A celebration attended by Texas Mutual representatives.
“We set ourselves part but being a workplace of choice and engrain the 7 Habits in to all we do. Seeing this at the elementary level is amazing. This aligns with our mission and we wanted to support the work,” said Peppia Gates of Texas Mutual. “We want to be part of student success here at Shadow Oaks.”
This school year, SBISD launched similar programs at the secondary level. These include Character Strong for all middle school campuses and Emotional Backpack for all high schools.The district’s Coordinator of System of Care and Crisis Services, Meredith Wertz, attributes growing awareness surrounding social-emotional learning to several factors, including interest at the state level.
“Bottom line, it’s about serving kids with the support they need,” said Wertz. Currently, SBISD’s elementary schools have the autonomy to self-select programming that fits individual campus needs and goals. For Baggerly, that fit was Leader in Me.
As students presented the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People during the ribbon-cutting pep rally, it was hard to not draw a parallel to the district’s Core Values, values that had a significant impact on Baggerly’s adoption of the Leader in Me program.
“I wanted to find something that would take the idea of our system’s values and carry it down to the student level,” said Baggerly. “When I was a young teacher, we did Covey training, and it’s always shaped my work and outlook. For me, this was the perfect union of those two things.”
The Leader in Me 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
- Habit 1: Be Proactive (You’re in Charge)
- Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind (Have a Plan)
- Habit 3: Put First Things First (Work First, Then Play)
- Habit 4: Think Win-Win (Everyone Can Win)
- Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood(Listen Before You Talk)
- Habit 6: Synergize (Together Is Better)
- Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw (Balance Feels Best)