‘Leader in Me’ Building Student Leaders at Two CPS Schools


Two Cincinnati Public Schools are rolling out a whole-school transformation process based on a kid-friendly version of Stephen Covey’s popular book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

A mural inside Cheviot School shares the habits students are encouraged to practice.

A mural inside Silverton Paideia Academy shares the habits students are encouraged to practice on a daily basis.

Titled “The Leader in Me,” this program teaches leadership and life skills to empower every child to become a leader. The Leader in Me puts Covey’s 7 Habits into kid-friendly language and uses best practices to help students learn critical skills such as responsibility, accountability, problem solving and more. The program is currently used in over 2,000 schools in 35 countries worldwide.

CPS’ Silverton Paideia Academy and Cheviot School each recently hosted events that brought in community members and highlighted what The Leader in Me program is all about.

Silverton Paideia Academy, which displays Leader in Me graphics in colorful hallway murals, kicked off their first year participating in the program by holding a Learning Is Cool assembly on December 8.

“Our goal is to empower kids to be part of the learning process,” Principal Leniese Fuqua said. “This program will help students be prepared for higher education and beyond.”

Silverton’s assembly brought in local celebrities who tied the 7 Habits to how they became successful in their lives. Bengals player Domata Peko, Reds player Michael Lorenzen and cardiologist Dr. Sai Hanumanthu each spoke about how they got to where they are in their careers and who their role models are in life.

Students showed off what they know about the 7 Habits by asking the celebs tough questions centered on each habit.

The assembly ended with the featured guests staying for lunch with the school’s Top 100 Leaders of the Month — students chosen because they best exemplified the 7 Habits of The Leader in Me.

“Everything they do is tied to the 7 Habits,” Fuqua said.

This first year introduces students to the program with a Habit of the Week. For example, Habit 3, “Put first things first,” tells students to finish work before play. Teachers use this habit to show the importance of doing homework before hitting the video games. The other habits also are woven throughout the school day. Large murals featuring the habits adorn Silverton’s school walls.

Cheviot School, celebrating its second year in The Leader in Me program — and its status as the first Leader in Me school in Southwest Ohio — held a Leadership Lunch on December 17, welcoming community leaders, including the fire chief and police chief,  who have helped the school implement the program.

“We infuse leadership into everything we do,” teacher Denise Youngs said. “When students can talk to you about the habits and how they use them, it’s huge. The changes have been amazing.”

The lunch opened with students singing songs about the 7 Habits. Teachers spoke about how The Leader in Me is progressing at Cheviot School, then students shared their favorite habits.

Even the youngest children are fully engaged with the 7 Habits.

“What I like about school is that we have the 7 Habits. My favorite habit is ‘Be proactive,’ ” first-grader Brooke Bostick said, “because you’re in charge of yourself and you control your actions.”

According to Principal Tammy Solomon-Gray, the 7 Habits guide the entire school day at Cheviot.

“We want to prepare students not just for the next grade level, but for the future,” she said.

That includes giving students leadership roles such as reading the day’s announcements over the loudspeaker and giving guests school tours. The 7 Habits show up in all classes including art, music and physical education, and all students use data notebooks to track their progress in the program.

“That gives them a daily visual reminder of where they’ve been, where they are and where they need to go,” Solomon-Gray said.

Cheviot and Silverton schools are working together, sharing ideas as they go through the program. Both principals anticipate more positive changes as they continue to follow The Leader in Me process.

Solomon-Gray points out how well the program parallels with CPS’ My Tomorrow initiative.

“As students look forward to professional and postsecondary education options, they’ll need certain habits to follow through,” she said. “My Tomorrow gives them the process. The 7 Habits give them the habits to follow through on the process.”