Nolley Elementary School (Akron, OH). “I can see the leader in you!” is one of Nolley Elementary’s slogans to promote student leadership. Nolley’s school culture revolves around the Leader in Me program and the concepts and terminology of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Nolley displays student work exhibiting these habits, with inspiring quotes, and visual academic goal boards. Students are taught to assume leadership in their own learning by creating Wildly Important Goals in their Leadership/Data notebooks. Nolley recognizes students when they achieve their goals. Nolley also recognizes students who exhibit the seven habits through the Leaders of the Month, the Principal’s Award, and/or the Caught Being Good Leaders. The students’ pictures are on display at the school and on the school’s website. The school holds an annual Leadership Day for parents, fellow educators, and community leaders. Students showcase their growth and ownership in academics and their leadership potential. Students serve as greeters, tour guides, speakers, and photographers. This day is a source of pride for students and staff.
Chesterfield Elementary School (Chesterfield, MO). Chesterfield Elementary School uses the Leader in Me process to develop each student into a leader of his/her own learning. They encourage each student to identify their strengths and interests and become a leader. Students develop academic and behavior goals and then monitor their progress using a goal binder. Chesterfield’s Leader in Me program focuses on nine-character traits of responsibility, respect, perseverance/effort, caring, cooperation, honesty, courage, patience, and self-control. The school encourages students to take an active leadership role in the school and spearhead community service projects. The Student Leadership Team includes representatives from grades 3-5. The team brainstorms ideas on how to improve the school as well as lead community outreach projects. Some of their ideas have addressed School Spirit Day, indoor recess cart, and helping the Humane Society. For the last four years, students have hosted a Leadership Day where every student is highlighted as a leader in some capacity.
St. Petersburg Collegiate High School (SPCHS) (St. Petersburg, FL). SPCHS Leadership Program helps students develop leadership skills and gain important career and life skills (e.g., interviewing skills, ethical leadership). The leadership philosophy focuses on service, collaboration, and continual improvement. The program starts in the sophomore year and builds students’ foundational leadership skills. Juniors and seniors may choose high school and/or college courses so that they earn a high school diploma and an associate in arts degree. In the junior year, students learn skills that will help them in a business environment (e.g., business etiquette, dressing for success, and communication skills). College professors assess juniors on these skills during their Leadership Luncheon performance demonstration. Juniors also start developing an online portfolio (an archive of high school and college work). Seniors take a college leadership course, assume leadership roles, and complete their e-portfolios. By graduation, students’ portfolios highlight various aspects of leadership, academic accomplishments, and business etiquette skills. Students showcase their e-portfolios with parents and community representatives at the Senior Capstone networking event.
Toll Gate Elementary School (Pickerington, OH). Toll Gate Elementary promotes and recognizes each student as a leader. The school’s Eight Great Traits includes the Seven Habits of Happy Kids and an eighth habit – find your voice and inspire others to find theirs. Students who demonstrate one or more of these traits daily receive leadership badges. Students wear the badges for the entire school day and have opportunities to share with other students during Morning Meeting. The school uses leadership passports to track data related to continuous demonstration of the habits.
Student Leadership Teams meet twice a month and include all students in first through fourth grade. Students complete an annual survey to select their team of choice. The school offers a wide range of teams that allow students to engage in planning and implementing school-wide projects, community service, or exploring potential interests. Examples of teams include: Marvelous Math Minds, Robotics and Coding, and Girl Power. Each team is facilitated by staff members and parents who share a passion for a team’s focus.
Western Center Academy (WCA) (Hemet, CA). Given its location, WCA’s central goal is to integrate a “museum discovery” based approach with formal educational methods. The school is located on the site of the Western Science Center that has a large collection of Native American artifacts and Ice Age fossils. The Museum Discovery approach includes experiential, participatory activities with real specimens. It often takes the form of technology-infused, project-based learning in small groups. Museum Learning models how adults learn by researching, discussing with colleagues, and communicating conclusions. For example, students: may dig up artifacts in the simulated archaeology/paleontology dig site; or become detectives using forensic examination to solve simulated crimes. Classrooms are set up to facilitate group work and project-based learning with wheeled tables that can be easily changed or grouped together. Middle school students study core subjects in the morning and in the afternoon have STEM classes (e.g., robotics, aquatic engineering, archaeology, or programming). Students rotate though a lab every 9 weeks and experience 12 courses during their middle school years. These engaging methodologies contribute to increased student attendance, improved morale, and greater completion of classwork and homework.
Paddock Road Elementary School (Omaha, NE). Paddock Road Elementary emphasizes personalized learning for all students. To increase student engagement and learning, the school focuses on getting to know students’ strengths, interests, skills, and abilities. Using that information, the school creates a variety of classroom, schoolwide, and after-school opportunities for student voice and choice. In the spring, Paddock offers enrichment clusters in which students have a voice and choice in classes based on their interests. Third through sixth grade teachers use I/E (intervention and Enrichment) time to actively involve students in their learning through passion projects. For six weeks, students participate in school-wide enrichment classes (e.g., sea animals, movie-making) to create authentic products of interest. For differentiated student interventions, teachers use screenings, intervention graphs and logs, for instruction in small groups. During the school year, the Personalized Learning Workgroup provides additional resources and ideas for teachers to differentiate instruction. The school’s library has a Tinker Lab for students to explore and create various robots and kits (e.g., building circuits or structures). Other learning opportunities include 6-8 weeks of Fine Arts Clubs after school. Teachers, parent volunteers, and paraprofessionals teach these clubs. Topics may include writing, performing arts, dance, and yoga.
Hastings High School (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY). Hastings High School is committed to keeping the curriculum engaging and relevant for all its students. It offers rigorous academic courses as well as non-traditional electives. Hastings encourages teachers to develop half-year non-traditional electives focused on student and faculty interests while aligned with the state standards. These electives address a range of subject areas, from Forensics, Detectives in Film and Fiction, Race and Gender in Contemporary Society, to MythBusters. Students can build their own physical education curriculum by choosing from among a group of ‘selectives’ so that their experience follows their interests. For example, students can focus on healthy lifestyle choices and design their own fitness routines as part of their experience. Seniors can take Economics for a semester and choose an elective from among Anthropology, Trial Law, Criminal Justice, Arts Perspectives, Sociology, or Modern Middle East.
Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy (Wilmington, CA). Challenge Los Angeles is a 7-week competition in which students from LAUSD high schools select an issue and develop solutions to complex problems facing their communities. HTPA students formed Harbor 4 Hunger, focusing on promoting healthy eating habits and free food resources. Students connect food donors with local charities running food pantries; create emergency food boxes for local schools; and participate and run food tabling services at local markets and businesses and food drives at local schools. The activity is designed to promote civic responsibility, leadership skills, teamwork, and discussion with local experts.
Doral Academy of Technology (Doral, FL). The seventh grade civics curriculum develops a student’s understanding of the foundations of our constitutional democracy and the fundamental principles and values upon which they were founded. Students participate in a Civic Political Fair, taking surveys to determine political scale awareness. DAT offers elective courses in law studies. Students learn how the American justice system works from a civil and criminal perspective that includes mock trials and speech and debate. Middle school students can serve as jurors, critique student attorneys for a mock trial, and shadow high school students while they prepare for a district-wide Mock Trial Competition. In the competition, DAT students present four full trials, opening statements, and closing arguments. They prepare witnesses, authenticate documents, and engage in direct and cross-examinations.
Additionally, this past election season middle school students participated in a mock election where they voted on the Florida ballot.
John P. Woods Elementary School (Fort Smith, AR). Woods Elementary holds yearly student council officer elections. Students prepare campaign materials and present speeches before the student body votes using computer kiosks. After officers are elected, students in each class run for representatives, creating marketing materials and giving speeches. Throughout the year, the student council participates in community civic activities, such as holding drives for the Wounded Warrior Project, Hamilton House, and the Humane Society.
In addition, during Constitution day students and community members share literature about how the country was founded. Fifth grade students participate in a Flag Etiquette program provided by the William O. Darby Chapter of Military Officers Association of America. Then students from this assembly are chosen to raise and lower the campus flag every day.