Family Night blends reading and leadership

Kindergartner Blake Calkins gets his art project laminated by teacher Jessica Miller at a recent Family Night celebration at Stoney Creek Elementary

It wasn’t a real campfire burning in the hallway of Stoney Creek Elementary, but second-grader Makswel Jesser and his fourth-grader brother, Wyatt, were happy to play along if it involved getting treats at the school’s Family Night celebration.

Gabby Zehner, a second-grader at Stoney Creek Elementary, enjoys reading at a recent Family Night

Accompanied by their mom, Sara Jesser, the brothers were among several dozen families who attended the event to celebrate the school’s “Leader in Me”  program, which teaches youngsters to develop personal leadership based on the book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey.

“Leader in Me” is designed to develop good organizational and communications skills in a child-friendly format. Stoney Creek, which counts 464 students from kindergarten through the second grade, has been part of the program for three years.

Judy Larson, a Title I teacher who organized the Family Night, said the “Leader in Me” program helps their students become better readers.

Judy Larson, a Title I teacher at Stoney Creek Elementary, helped organize a recent Family Night celebration

The Family Night games reinforced the reading habits with their students and parents, Larson said.

“It’s an opportunity to enjoy reading and have fun with it,” she said.

Getting students to read by the time they enter the third grade is critical to their education, Larson said. “If a child is struggling, the longer you wait, the harder it is to get them to where they need to be.”

Related article: Let me show you the leader in me

James Harger
James Harger reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor. Read James' full bio.

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