Over the past half-dozen years, we’ve been happy to see the “Leader in Me” program spread across school buildings throughout the Cedar 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 put them into practice.

It’s designed to instill leadership and principles of self-reliance in students to improve academic achievement, life skills and workforce readiness. Those principles can help individuals and entire communities.

Recently, it was announced Leader Valley, the talent development initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, will expand its capabilities in the Cedar Valley by taking further leadership roles previously provided by FranklinCovey.

“We are implementing Leader in Me in an unprecedented fashion,” said Alliance CEO Steve Dust. “Our regional, multi-district approach has yet to be attempted anywhere else. As extensions of the FranklinCovey team, we can increase and expedite support to the growing number of Leader in Me schools.”

One area for growth will be workshop facilitation, allowing educators to present nearly all content delivered to area Leader in Me schools as part of their training and implementation. As certified facilitators, the staff will be equipped to deliver training and assistance.

The other area is the opportunity for staff to become certified coaches. Coaching is an integral part of the school transformation process. Leader Valley staff will work closely with building leaders to help them achieve school culture goals.

Teri Trask, the outgoing principal of Waterloo’s Orange Elementary School, will fill the position of facilitator and coach with Leader Valley. As principal at Orange, she led the school to Covey’s elite Lighthouse status. Her new role will focus on facilitating training and innovative programming, coaching and ensuring maximum impact with students within school cultures.

During 2016-17, 21 schools will be supported by Leader Valley, up from 19 during the past year. They include schools in Cedar Falls and Waterloo districts and Cedar Valley Catholic Schools as well as St. Patrick Catholic School.

In the years since Leader in Me began, school administrators across the United States have seen positive changes in students, reporting increases in student confidence, teamwork, initiative, responsibility and creativity as well as improved test scores and decreases in disciplinary issues, according to www.theleaderinme.org.

This is a worthy program that deserves community support. It helps students develop traits that can help them be successful throughout their time in school with the hope they will carry these habits forward through college and beyond — creating a successful workforce with expanded business opportunities.

This program gives students an opportunity to gain leadership capabilities. We’re happy to see it take an even greater hold among our Cedar Valley schools.

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