SIDMAN – Nevaeh Rivera’s favorite aspect of the Leader in Me program at Forest Hills High School is community involvement.
The student-centric initiative recently engaged in the ‘When in Doubt, Help’ fundraiser, which ended with a casual day on Thursday, when students and staff participated by making small donations. .
“It’s very useful and very good,” the elder said.
Funds raised by the drive will be divided between local fire departments and libraries.
Rivera was one of many students in the group led by Superintendent David Lehman and Director of Education Lucas Jacobs.
The students took the reins of the project and designed a flyer, created a slogan, constructed a letter of request and helped raise donations.
“They’ve really stepped up to help lead the initiative,” Jacobs said.
This is the goal of the program, to have a positive impact on students and to teach them to be leaders.
Curt Vasas, the school’s academic director, said he has already seen a shift in the way learners think – and the initiative has been in place for less than a year.
Colton Panick, a junior from the same group as Rivera, was happy to lend a hand.
He said his participation in “Leader in Me” and fundraising made him feel “more grounded” in the community.
Both students also enjoy the bi-weekly focus groups – Tuesdays and Thursdays – when they learn level-focused lessons.
The program teaches students the seven habits of a highly effective teenager: initiative, vision, self-discipline, relationship building, communication, collaboration, and continuous self-improvement.
As learners progress through “Leader in Me,” they learn different aspects of the program.
Seventh graders explore the foundations of initiative, while ninth graders dive deep into habits and seniors learn to be “great leaders.”
“You teach these habits to kids, and the goal is to get a better school culture,” Vasas said.
Improving that relationship within the building is something Vasas said operations manager Ed Alexander has been working on since the renovated high school opened a few years ago.
Vasas said that when merging the old middle and high schools, he and Alexander focused on uniting the two student populations.
When he was introduced to the “Leader in Me” program by Jennifer Dorand of FranklinCovey, he knew this was the way to go.
“It’s not something you do, it’s something you become,” Vasas said.
The initiative was rolled out across the building last July, and with the start of the new school year, students began participating in the program as if it were just another class on their roster.
Vasas said one of the goals of launching this program is to be more proactive instead of reacting to student problems, and it teaches learners to be better citizens.
Another benefit of discussions is that faculty and staff get to know students better, and vice versa.
“This process is effective in that,” Vasas said.
For Lehman, the fundraiser and “Leader in Me” program are extensions of Forest Hills’ efforts to be a community center that creates “civic-minded” individuals.