Jessup Elementary: Growing Global Leaders
Author: Marshall Snedaker
July 1, 2015
Jessup Elementary in Jessup, Maryland, recently finished its second year as a Leader in Me School. As a part of their second year of implementation, the staff and administration developed a new school vision: Growing Global Leaders.
Principal Anita Dempsey shared thoughts on why they decided on this new school vision.
“Students grow into leaders later in life. It’s not only in education; it’s in life and in their careers,” Dempsey said. “We realize the importance of student empowerment and want to give many opportunities for students to grow their leadership skills. That’s why we focus on academics, service, leadership, and wellness. Our vision encompasses all of those key areas for our students.”
To help fulfill the vision of “Growing Global Leaders,” the staff and administration at Jessup have worked together to empower students and integrate the leadership principles of The Leader in Me throughout the school.
“Every time we know we have things that need to be done, our first thought is going to the kids and making sure they are the leaders, not the teachers,” Dempsey said. “That’s what it’s all about—student empowerment.”
Fourth-grade teacher Elizabeth Hewitt shared one example of how the paradigm of empowering students at school has given them confidence to be leaders in their community as well.
“Our green team, which is an environmental team made of fifth graders, has really thought about ways that they can be leaders in the community,” Hewitt said. “They created a book swap, where if the kids donate a book, they can take a book. We did it within the school, and then any leftover books they donated to families in need. They’ve also been working together to create ways to help with recycling for Earth Day. We’re starting to see that global leadership within the students because they’re starting to think outside themselves and outside of the school.”
Jennifer Noord, a fourth-grade teacher, shared how they have worked to connect leadership principles and the 7 Habits through literacy.
“At the beginning of the year, we thought it would be great to have an action team and our librarian pick out books that related to each of the habits for each month of the school year,” Noord said. “We also had the teachers each pick a habit once a month and a book that relates to it and then make a video of themselves reading it. We put the videos on our iMovie on our shared drive, so they are available for all teachers to show at any point during the month.”
As part of their goals to create visual reminders of leadership at Jessup, they use visual Emotional Bank Accounts. An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust in a relationship. “Deposits” into an Emotional Bank Account are made through giving compliments, keeping promises, and setting clear expectations.
Each classroom and individual at Jessup has a type of Emotional Bank Account chart. Hewitt shared an example of how her class’s chart works.
“The other day when I picked my students up from Music, the teacher told them how responsible and proactive they were,” Hewitt said. “My students said, ‘We get to deposit a dollar!’ We went back to the classroom and the student in charge of the Emotional Bank Account added a dollar to it. It’s a great way to publicly display how many leaders are in each classroom.”
As the students have learned the 7 Habits, they are developing important leadership skills such as planning and goal setting. Hewitt and Dempsey shared how they see students carry those skills into other areas of their lives.
“The students love using their Leadership Notebooks to graph and look at their accomplishments and their celebrations,” Hewitt said. “We use past data from the month before to go back and reflect when we set new goals. I have a few kids who have transferred these habits to sporting events that they’ve done. I had one student tell me that last fall he had five interceptions and this year he wants eight.”
“I think the biggest thing is the children realizing that these skills can help support them in their academics by setting goals—in attendance, in better grades, in better problem solving and solutions when it comes to problems with their peers, and in various situations with homework,” Dempsey said. “It’s exciting to see how they’re realizing the benefits throughout many aspects of their life.”
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Tags: principals, school culture, student empowerment, student leadership, The Leader in Me, whole-child education