- Sponsorship -

Let Me Show You the Leader in Me

Students Educate Visitors on Program’s Principles

First-grader Freddy Williams grasped a visitor’s hand firmly and gave it two quick shakes, maintained eye contact, and welcomed her to his Stoney Creek Elementary classroom.

Across the hall, Carter Cobb explained his classroom’s goals for the year to guests who included Superintendent Ethan Ebenstein and Missi McPherson, educational support services coordinator and homeless liaison, as well as parent volunteers and a high school student interested in becoming a teacher.

Leaders Start Early

More on Comstock Park’s Leader in Me program:

“Our goals are to be able to count to 120, to read for 20 minutes and to get to reading level J (for juvenile),” Carter told them.

All around the K-2 building, students were showing administrators, volunteers and community members how their participation in The Leader in Me program has made an impact.

Activities included student-guided tours; classroom visits; a panel discussion with teachers, parents and students; and a student expo to explain the 7 Habits that serve as the focal point for the program.

The Leader in Me is a whole-school transformation model developed by Steven Covey and based on seven habits of leadership. Pine Island and Stoney Creek elementaries received a five-year grant from the I Am A Leader Foundation to implement the program. The model has been adopted by four district schools so far.

“The main thing we wanted to spotlight is the growth and achievement we’ve seen in less than a year of implementing it,” Principal Jason Rykse said. “This year we focused on ways we have created an environment and a culture that encourages leadership, and gets students to see how they can display the 7 Habits.”

Second-grader Terrence Hawkins, left, explains how he uses the 7 Habits at home while Charlotte Haney waits her turn on the panel discussion

Show and Tell

Violet Holmes shared Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.

“That means to exercise, get enough sleep and eat healthy so you can take care of yourself and others,” the second-grader said from memory.

And does she always get enough sleep?

Yep, she indicated with a nod.


Violet reconsidered: “Maybe not at sleepovers.”

Playground aide and parent Jennifer Barnhardt said she’s seen a lot of evidence of the 7 Habits at work on the monkey bars, swings and slides.

“Whenever there are issues and they don’t remember to use it themselves, we remind them, how can they all win?” Barnhardt said. “Just that little reminder is all they need.”

She said her typically shy son is now “getting up in front of people and speaking” since being a part of the program. “Just seeing the maturity in him, I know it has come from the 7 Habits.”

Rykse said next year Stoney Creek will begin to look at implementing more of the academic elements of the program, “though you can already see that some of our staff have already really run with it,” Rykse said. “Next year it will be more intentional.”


The Leader in Me

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


The changing of guard – as long-time educator and AD welcomes a new one

Godwin Heights Football Coach Brandon Kimble will take over as the district’s athletic director when Robert Hisey, dean of students and athletic director, officially retires Nov. 2...

Whole-child advocates ready to lead, collaborate

SNN gets to know these new elementary principals in this edition of Meet the Principal...

Amid uncertainty, new protocols, there’s laughter, new connections

Junior Olivia Austin reflects on the first day of a very unique school year...

District welcomes new administrators, ready to ‘lead through uncharted waters’

New administrators share their thoughts on starting their posts during a pandemic...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Student athletes glad football is back, after trying other sports

Some student athletes briefly competed in other sports, such as tennis and cross country, after fall football was canceled. Now they’re happy to be back on the gridiron...

In class, online, both? Parents, students wrestle with choices

Students, parents, teachers and others share their feelings about the start of this school year...

Comstock Park offers hybrid or all virtual options

After surveying the community, the district settled on a hybrid option: Students will be divided into two groups and attend school on Monday-Tuesday or Thursday-Friday...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU