CEDAR FALLS — New teachers were welcomed to the Cedar Valley at an annual breakfast Thursday as a fundraising effort was kicked off to expand the Leader in Me initiative.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber hosts the New Teacher Breakfast and is the driving force behind Leader in Me through its talent development arm, Leader Valley.

Leader in Me, created by Utah-based FranklinCovey, introduces students and teachers to the principles of Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and helps to put them into practice. Create Great is a $7 million fundraising campaign that will help expand and sustain the initiative in the Cedar Valley.

Students from three of the area’s 21 Leader in Me schools emceed the event, held at the Hilton Garden Inn, and introduced a series of speakers.

“For just a moment, we hope you sit back and look at all who have come to honor you,” Jaelyn Rose, who will be a sixth grader at Hoover Middle School this fall, told the new teachers. “We hope you know how important you are to your community and future students.”

A total of 120 new teachers at the Waterloo and Cedar Falls community schools, Cedar Valley Catholic Schools and Valley Lutheran School were honored.

Speaker Jim Wohlpart, interim president of the University of Northern Iowa, offered some inspirational words to the teachers.

“The work that you all do is about blowing on embers and igniting a fire,” Wohlpart said after telling about his second-grade teacher’s impact on him. “It’s about finding potential in a second-grader who didn’t know they had that potential.”

Metro school superintendents also spoke, responding to questions from the student emcees.

Waterloo Superintendent Jane Lindaman told them that “kids matter,” relating experiences as a teacher at the beginning of her career. “My job as a teacher was to support kids by helping them dream,” she said.

“All of you will add benefits to our communities,” said Cedar Falls Superintendent Andy Pattee. “All of you will add value to our students.”

Dale Monroe, chief administrator of Cedar Valley Catholic Schools, offered a bit of advice. “We use the acronym Think BIG: Be yourself, Invite change and Give more than you receive.”

Monroe is one of three co-chairs of the fundraising campaign. He noted the money that’s raised will help Leader in Me “increase from 21 schools to all of the schools in the Cedar Valley, if we can” — which is 13 more, for 34 total.

Hawkeye Community College President Linda Allen, another co-chair, said a number of people have been doing the fundraising work. “We have a team of volunteers from across the Cedar Valley, representatives from business, pre-K-12, and parents.”

She credited the third co-chair, Tom Penaluna, CEO of CBE Cos., for his advocacy of Leader in Me from the beginning. “Tom has actually been the inspiration for this work,” said Allen.

Organizers noted that they have already been busy collecting pledges in the fundraising campaign. A group of students came forward to show just how much has been raised, each holding signs with a number in the style of TV game show “The Price is Right.” After rearranging themselves several times, the students revealed the full amount: $1,876,257.

Those interested in learning more about Leader in Me or contributing can go online to www.leadervalley.org. They can also contact Melissa Reade, Leader Valley program director, at 232-1156 or mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com.

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Waterloo Schools / HCC Reporter

Education reporter for the Courier

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