Kean named a Leader in Me Lighthouse School

Kean named a Leader in Me Lighthouse School

Image Credit: Ellen Pill

Kean Elementary School was recently named one of only 16 Lighthouse Schools in the state out of the 3,600 Ohio schools participating in the Leader in Me program.

Kaley Egli is a guidance counselor at Kean Elementary and the school’s lighthouse team coordinator. She said the Leader in Me is a whole school transformational process that focuses on leadership. Focusing on the areas of leadership, culture and academics, the program teaches life skills.

“(Leader in Me) creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader,” Egli said.

According to Gabe Tudor, superintendent of Wooster City Schools, Leader in Me is in four of Wooster’s elementary schools, as well as Edgewood Middle School.

We are thankful to have the Leader in Me program in our schools,” Tudor said. “Kean is a great example of how this program teaches desirable habits, empowers students to be leaders and rewards positive behavior.”

Kean has been involved in the program since 2015. Egli said area guidance counselors were looking for a social-emotional learning curriculum to implement and had heard of other school districts in Ohio involved with Leader in Me.

“We sent a small group representative of our buildings to Columbus for a Leader in Me conference,” Egli said. “And we were just absolutely amazed at what we learned and saw. Students as young as kindergarten were taking ownership and helping lead their schools.”

Kean principal Gabrielle Montgomery said it didn’t take long to see positive effects from the program. “Teachers and staff at Kean believe in the power of student leadership and have seen great, long-term benefits stemming from the ongoing implementation of the Leader in Me over the past several years,” she said.

Using Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Leader in Me applies these principles of leadership to children of all ages. After initiating the program with students, Kean held a 7 Habits of Successful People training for all staff in June 2017.

“Then we were off and running at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year,” Egli said. “One of the biggest reasons that Leader in Me is so successful is because it empowers everyone — staff, students and families — to learn the seven habits and apply them to their own lives.”

All grades are involved in the Leader in Me process at Kean, using The 7 Habits of Happy Kids as guide. The habits, as described by Dr. Patty O’Grady in Psychology Today, are be proactive — manage feelings and stay optimistic; begin with the end in mind — anticipate the good, persist and be resilient; put first things first — prioritize positive choices, plans and accomplishments; think win-win — adopt a growth mind-set; seek to understand and be understood — manage feelings and be empathetic; synergize — focus on strengths; and sharpen the saw — take care of self and others and find meaning and purpose.

So what does it mean to be a Lighthouse School? Much like a lighthouse acts as a beacon, a school that exemplifies the Leader in Me in numerous ways may be designated as a lighthouse of sorts for schools just starting the process and other schools striving to also achieve Lighthouse status.

“In order to become a Lighthouse School, a school must demonstrate the elements of a mature Leader in Me school as outlined in a rubric,” Montgomery said. “Leader in Me reviewers came to visit Kean to gather evidence to show that Kean meets the Lighthouse criteria.”

She said there are only 507 Lighthouse Schools in the country and just over 600 in the world, making Kean Elementary a special light in the community.

“I am very proud of our Kean Elementary students and staff,” Tudor said. “They have worked hard to implement this program with fidelity.”

Tudor was present recently when Kean students were surprised in the afternoon by an announcement asking everyone to assemble outside. With all the grades lined up in the school parking lot, Guy Fly, Perry Hotter and the Habbit Rabbit made a special appearance to announce the new Lighthouse School status.

“I think the reason why we are seeing such success with the Leader in Me is that it extends well beyond our school building,” Egli said. “Yes, it has positively changed our school culture, and we are so thankful for that, but also students and staff are applying this to their everyday lives. We know that not all students will be a leader standing in front of a large crowd, but we are empowering all students to become leaders of their own lives.”

For more information regarding the Leader in Me and Lighthouse Schools, go to and

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