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Leadership, In Their Own Words

Written on May 14th, 2015

[caption id=”attachment_11031” align=”aligncenter” width=”813”]Two Students Reading Above: Two students at Belleville Christian School enjoy a book together during a leadership day classroom tour.[/caption]

Last week’s OACS news article, Learning in Community at BCS, highlighted Belleville Christian school’s implementation of, “The Leader in Me”, a whole school transformation model that focuses on seven key learning habits: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think ‘win-win’, seek first to understand then to be understood, “synergize” and sharpen the saw (achieve balance).

During the May 7th leadership day at BCS, students spoke to their broader community about how they’ve embraced those habits throughout the year. They led classroom tours, performed songs, shared work they were proud of, told stories and made guests feel at home in their school. This week I followed that event up by chatting with three BCS students about what that experience was like, and how The Leader in Me process has shaped their growth and their perspective.

According to Eden, a student in grade eight, the impact of The Leader in Me has done good things for both younger and older students at the school.

“Everyone, even the younger kids all the way through from grade one to grade eight, have been sharing their ideas more,” she said. “Everybody’s getting along more because of the different seven habits and how they help with really anything throughout the day and our life.”

Eden explained that the habit she’s had to work on the most this year is “begin with the end in mind”.

“When we’re doing big projects in class, just having everything organized, and knowing the goal for the end in mind of the different projects, was probably the biggest area that it’s helped me with.”

She noted that another challenging but important habit for her was “think first, then understand before you try to be understood.”

“I do have different things that I would like to share, and sometimes if I’m not agreeing with someone, I’m kind of ignorant towards their idea,” she admitted. “But really, I need to listen to what they have to say before I judge their opinion.”

Working towards improvement—whether that be in an academic, social or character building sense—is a big part of, “The Leader in Me”. Although the process invites learners to become aware of certain weaknesses, and take responsibility for their own growth, students at BCS know perfection isn’t the end goal. 

Kate, a student in grade four, communicated that message to her peers in a special way last week.

“I sang a song with my friend in the assembly about all the seven habits,” she said. “But I made the end different from the one on youtube. Instead of saying: If you follow the seven habits you’ll have no flaws, we said, we still won’t be perfect.”

True, perfection isn’t the point, but students believe that The Leader in Me is making a positive and noticeable difference in their school.

“I think our school’s working harder by finishing our homework quicker and focusing on the seven habits,” said Matthew, a sixth grade student.

Beyond grades and homework assignments, The Leader in Me has invited students to explore the connection between their growing Christian faith and their understanding of leadership.

Matthew pointed out that even as leaders, everyone “has the choice of following Jesus”.

“I think that’s an important role in the seven habits,” he added. 

This belief framed the way he approached his job as tour guide during leadership day.

“You’re just telling them about your school, and about Jesus,” he said. “That’s what I loved about it.”

Members of the Belleville community and beyond (including the MP of Ottawa) were more than happy to let students like Matthew, Kate and Eden take the lead.

One of the best parts of the day was “seeing the adults listening to all of the kids in the school” said Eden “and really being touched by how much this has impacted our school. It definitely made me think more highly of the seven habits.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by BCS Principal Ed Petrusma. “The big theme I heard in my class was that they didn’t realize the adults cared that much about what they were sharing,” he said. “That they cared about how they were growing and leading—that they were quite moved by it. That’s a real positive encouragement.”