SPRINGFIELD TWP.  When the Springfield police officers donated a tree to Young School last year, they did not realize they would be moving a mountain this school year.

The donation was not a real tree nor was the mountain real, they are actually murals to enhance the school’s successful "7 Healthy Habits of Highly Effective People - Leader In Me" program.

The Community Policing Department made its goal to buy the mountain for the school this year. Community Policing Officer Dan Rafferty said the Community Policing Department works each year to write grants and in conjunction with key businesses in the community that want to work with the schools. Rafferty pointed out that no tax dollars or Police Department funding is used to make the donations. It is all raised through the community policing department.

"It has made a huge difference," Fafferty said. "Last year, we bought the tree and this year our goal was to get this mountain. Every year, we build on working in the schools, with our kids and the Leader In Me program."

The tree helps to remind children of what the healthy habits are, and the mountain helps with goal setting. Principal Jennifer Ganzer said the students need to figure out what they need to do to reach the top of the mountain. It is a visual they use in the classroom as well.

Springfield Police Chief David Hoover, Rafferty and Coordinator of Volunteer Axillary Springfield Police (VASP) Linda Lohr were on hand at the school to present Ganzer with the mountain mural. The Community Policing Department also presented Ganzer and teachers Christie Hubert and Danielle Anderson with a check to help with the cost of field day for the kids. Hubert and Anderson were coordinating the student fun day.

"We started last year sponsoring field day to give kids something to look forward to at the end of the school year," Rafferty said.

Field Day came about through the lead groups of the Leader in Me program.

"Mrs. Hubert came to me and said she would love for her lead group to plan and lead field day," Ganzer said. "She remembers field day as a child and how much fun it was. They planned and organized field day and with that comes a cost."

The Leader In Me program has shown great results in the elementary schools in the district. Lohr said it is a wonderful thing to see when all the kids get together for Town Hall meetings at school and incorporate the 7 Healthy Habits.

Ganzer said she was recently asked to provide a student to introduce the keynote speaker at the Leadership and Empowerment Summit at EJ Thomas Hall. Young Elementary third-grader Alannah Phillips was chosen. Learning the habits is proven to give the children more self-confidence. After introducing the speaker, Phillips asked her teacher if she could stay and listen to the speaker, as she had introduced her and wanted to hear what she had to say. She did and understood what the speaker was talking about to the educators as she had learned it through the healthy habits program at Young.

Hoover said it is a good thing for the police department to be involved with the schools and children. He pointed out that they get a lot of help from community policing, Rafferty and VASP being involved with the schools.

"These kids are our future," Hoover said. "These things (7 Healthy Habits) are being instilled in them and I am hoping it goes on. It will be beneficial for the community and their futures."

Rafferty said he has seen a difference in the students since he began participating.

"You can see the difference in the kids," he said. "I mean they are more disciplined in what they are doing, they are excited about what they are doing, they are excited to be here, and you can see it carrying over to everything. But, you can’t do it without funding and we try to help."

The schools and community policing department are looking for businesses that want to get involved to help the efforts in the Springfield Schools. To do so, contact the Police Department and Rafferty at 330-794-2745 or contact the Board of Education offices at 330-798-1111, or any of the Springfield Schools.