NEW FRANKLIN  At Nolley Elementary School, students are becoming leaders in their community through "The Leader in Me" program. On Nov. 17, the school hosted its third Leadership Day where two students, Olivia and Andrew, emceed a presentation with student speeches and original songs from the class choir.

There are seven habits that all students learn with each habit being focused on for approximately one month. These come from the book 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Stephen Covey. The original adult book is titled 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Ideal leaders are:

- Be proactive

- Begin with the end in mind

- Put first things first

- Think win-win

- Seek first to understand, then be understood

- Synergize

- Sharpen the saw

More than 70 adults attended the event, including representatives from other schools who are considering the program. Coming from as far as Youngstown, representatives looked at Nolley for ideas, to see the children’s progress, and determine if this was the right path for their community. Also in attendance were PTA members, community leaders in business, and Board of Education members. Many of them were alumni of Nolley and reminisced as they toured the school.

The elementary school has received more than $40,000 in grants and donations during the last four years in order to train teachers and buy educational materials. Since implementing the program, administrators have seen a reduction in discipline problems and improved self-confidence in students.

For the special day, students had hand drawn the decorations from the covers on the water bottles to the table runners to sidewalk chalk at the entrance. Choosing to be in group three, I received a very thorough tour from two precocious boys named Matthew and Aiden. Included in my group were staff from Summit Academy, Kaderly Foundation, Flowers by Dick and Son, and Frank’s Storage.

As we walked through the halls and classrooms, I noticed the walls were plastered with quotes and reminders like "Let your leadership shine." My fourth-grade tour guides told us great things about every teacher and classroom. I learned that Mrs. Bowser knows magic tricks, Mrs. Carmichael teaches about Australia, and the kindergarten hallway is called K-Town. I also got to see many leadership notebooks from quiet Cade S. in kindergarten to the very verbal second grader named Dallas. Each notebook listed the seven habits, goals students set, and their progress.

Tayden G. from the Leadership Council told me the council acts as the eyes, ears, and voice of Nolley. The second grader showed me the suggestion box where kids and teachers can put in ideas like their current project, The Buddy Bench. It’s a bench for recess where kids can sit if they are feeling alone and designated buddies can find them to invite them to play.

She also showed me the Leader of the Month and Principal’s Award boards, where students’ pictures are displayed. Every month, new kids get rewarded for their excellent leadership qualities. "Kids get to be recognized in front of the entire class," said Tayden, who joined the Leadership Council last year after being nominated by her teacher.

From the two student photographers to each tour guide to the eager and on-task children in the classrooms, the effects of the program can be seen in the composure and pride the students have in their schoolwork. "The Leader in Me" program has also been implemented at Manchester Middle School. Manchester High School is still reviewing the program.