10/25/18 Hillcrest to be a Leader in Me school

Hillcrest to be a Leader in Me school
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 10/25/18    
Reprinted with permission.      

By this time next year, Hillcrest Elementary School will be a Leader in Me school, and it may save it from being taken over by the state.

On Tuesday, Oct. 23, N.C. Sen. Rick Gunn and Rep. Stephen Ross joined representatives from the United Way, ABSS Superintendent Bruce Benson, staff and school board members to present a $75,000 check to Principal Jennifer Reed.

The state funding was secured by Gunn and Ross and awarded to the United Way to give to the school, which has struggled for the past three years with low test scores and D or F performance grades.

In September, the Board of Education learned the school was on the short list for possible state takeover via the N.C. Innovative School District.

It was announced this month that Carver Heights Elementary School in Goldsboro was chosen for the program, but ISD Superintendent LaTeesa Allen warned in an email to Benson on Oct. 15 that she would be closely monitoring Hillcrest — and how it progresses under ABSS’s school improvement plan — for the next year.

The Leader in Me program, modeled after Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” aims to boost student engagement in class by giving them leadership roles such a classroom greeter, student ambassador, bus monitor, door holder, etc., and having them set/track goals.

There’s freedom in how it’s implemented, so the program looks different at each school. For example, Newlin Elementary decided to hold a morning meeting of the entire school coordinated and led by a fourth-grade student each day, but Hillcrest may not choose to do that.

Schools that implement Leader in Me report fewer discipline referrals, improved student, teacher and parent engagement, and a stronger sense of community.

This isn’t the first time the United Way has helped secure funding for the program.

In March, an anonymous Women United donor gave $60,000 to ABSS to implement Leader in Me at Haw River Elementary School with an additional $5,000 to support the existing program at Andrews Elementary.

Altogether, ABSS now boasts six Leader in Me schools — Hillcrest, Newlin, Andrews, Highland, South Mebane and Haw River — and 12 of the other 14 elementary schools have implemented either A+ Arts, Leader in Me, Dual Language/Global Immersion, or STEAM programs.

All of these have had success, which means Hillcrest is on the right track.