Learning “LEAD”ership Skills

LEAD-article-author-Marci-JohnsonWith the first quarter under their belts, the students at Northview Elementary school are eagerly learning new material! Not only are they learning how to read, write, and calculate math problems, they are learning how to be good citizens of the world. With the new Culture and Student Services Department, Valparaiso Community Schools can now integrate even more programs and opportunities for students to grow both academically and emotionally. One such program is LEAD (Leadership, Empathy, Accountability, and Discussion).

On the VCS website, Denise Koebcke states, “The VCS LEAD System is designed to enhance positive school climate by embedding research-based protective factors and developmental assets throughout both the school and community. A growing body of evidence suggests that school climate is one of the major factors differentiating successful schools from those that are not. Improving school climate has been shown to be an asset for all schools; a large body of research suggests that school climate, connectedness, and developmental assets directly impact the academic and social-emotional success of students. VCS LEAD philosophy is founded on research-based developmental assets and the three biggest protective factors for kids: Authoritative schools and families, Connectedness, and Higher Purpose (altruism and service). These larger themes also include protective factors of resilience, empathy, accountability, and social intelligence.” If you are interested in more information about LEAD, please visit the Culture/Student Services tab on the Valparaiso Community Schools website.

While Team LEAD has existed at the middle and high school levels for many years, it was successfully expanded to elementary schools in the fall of 2015. Team LEAD at Northview Elementary consists of thirty-six fifth graders who serve as mentors for the younger grades. While learning how to build their own social intelligences, these students help to teach these skills to the lower grades. This month, fifth grade Team LEAD members visited all of our classrooms to talk about gratitude. With November being the month of gratitude, VCS has provided every student, teacher, and staff member with a Thankfulness Journal. Each day, we will all write three things for which we are thankful in our journals. We are hoping that over the next 21 days, we can create a new habit of pausing during the day to recognize things for which we are thankful.

In December, Northview’s Team LEAD will host our second annual pajama drive. We accept donations of new pajamas that will be donated to Housing Opportunities. Building these relationships helps our Northview family connect to the community. We want our students to know that their families extend outside of their own homes. We want to imbed in them a sense of the larger family; the Northview family, the VCS family, and Valparaiso family.