WINFIELD, W.Va. -- The Putnam County Board of Education plans to implement a leadership and development program in each of its 13 elementary schools by the end of the 2013-14 school year.The "Leader In Me" program is a nationwide initiative based on the bestselling book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," by Stephen Covey. The program is employed by 1,370 schools across the country. Fifty-six of those schools -- including Hurricane Town Elementary School in Hurricane -- are deemed "Lighthouse Schools," for developing a leadership culture that has impacted the community.According to Putnam County Schools Superintendent Chuck Hatfield, while Hurricane Town is the first elementary school in the state to be given Lighthouse status through the program, he hopes every elementary school in the county will be given the chance to develop leadership skills through "The Leader In Me.""All of the children are given an opportunity to have a leadership role," Hatfield said. "They focus on what you're good at, and what your leadership role can be. They focus on that and give kids an opportunity to develop those kinds of skills."
The program started in 1999 at A.B. Combs Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C., after school administrators were asked to retool the school's curriculum or face closure. The school's principal developed a new curriculum based on the "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" after attending a seminar about the book. A.B. Combs Elementary became the No. 1 magnet school in the country in 2006.The FranklinCovey<co > team of global leadership and strategy consultants who certify each Lighthouse school designated Hurricane Town Elementary as a model Lighthouse school. The school will be spotlighted internationally on the "Leader In Me" program's website.Hatfield said the school promotes the growth of the "whole child" through integrated curriculum, community engagement and the school's Lighthouse Team, which consists of six people. The team is responsible for establishing the school's leadership goals."We have to teach our kids more than just content areas and knowledge for them to be successful in life," Hatfield said. "We feel that our responsibility is more than just preparing kids to graduate from high school. So we're really putting an emphasis on the 'soft skills' -- the work ethic, the collaboration, the oral communication skills, and other things that make them more well-rounded."The "Leader In Me" program is in line with Putnam County's BASES program, which was introduced to the county's middle and high schools during the last school year. BASES, or Behaviors, Attitudes and Skills to Enhance Success, encourages an emphasis on attendance, respect, eye contact and other social behaviors important to developing well-rounded students.The Putnam County school board will hold its next regular meeting July 15 at 7 p.m. The board will also participate in a regional meeting at the Kanawha County Board of Education on July 12 at 4 p.m. The other county school systems involved will be Clay, Boone and Kanawha.New legislation passed during the 2013 regular session requires counties within the same Regional Education Service Agency to meet and "identify administrative, coordinating and other county-level services and functions that may be shared between or among the county boards, especially when resignations, retirements, staffing realignments or similar events may occur."Reach Lydia Nuzum at email@example.com