When Health-e Giving was launched, Leader in Me was selected as one of the charities with which we’d work, as their goals aligned so perfectly with ours. Within several months, we had conversations with Mychael Irwin, the principal at Hazel Dell, about helping her get the program off the ground at her school, and our story with Hazel Dell began.  

Recently, Health-e Pro–and Health-e Giving–founder, Meg Chesley, visited Hazel Dell Elementary near Vancouver, Washington, to see the fruits of Hazel Dell’s work with implementing Leader in Me. It’s been less than a year since principles from Leader in Me have started taking root at Hazel Dell, but already, some pretty remarkable things are happening.

Meg visited during Hazel Dell’s Enrichment Fair, where students, former students, parents, and community members have gathered annually for 31 years. Companies that are located near the school–Buffalo Wild Wings, Wal-mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s–often come in for the day and contribute by teaching classes and offering supplies. This year, 43 classes were offered to the kids. Home Depot and Lowe’s taught classes on building bridge feeds, and building bird feeders, complete with hammers, saws–the whole works!

Each of Hazel Dell’s teachers and community members were asked to teach a life skill, and associate it with Leader in Me Principles. For example, students are encouraged to “choose your own weather each day” which exemplifies the Be Proactive principle. For the gardening class, the leaders were able to futurecast: Is this something you’d like to do? Be a gardener? Or have a garden in your house? If so, the students attending that class could stay and ask questions or learn more about gardening. Then the teachers were able to pick up on which kids liked which classes, and incorporate practical application into their lessons. For math, if you wanted a garden, you’d need to know the area and perimeter for the garden, and that could make the math more meaningful and relevant to that student interested in gardening. It’s a sweet way to build those moments in and show the kids how to apply these principles in life.

Another way Mychael shared that students are able to participate in Leader in Me principles in her school: the kids make the announcements over the intercom at the school. One time recently, two students mixed up the day they were supposed to make the announcement, so they used two 7 Habits Principles to solve the problem: they were proactive by “creating their weather”, and they looked for a win-win solution: “You go today, and I’ll go tomorrow.” As Mychael astutely stated, “We’re not just teaching the 7 Habits, but the underlying things to do to access the habits.”

Leader in Me Principles

The students have also been planning, writing down goals, and having data binders where they track their goals. As Mychael says, “You show me you’re motivated when you write down your plan.” The kids thrive knowing they have a plan, they can write it down, and as soon as they write down their plan, they’re motivated–remembering their goals and plans later!

What’s the bottom line for Mychael when it comes to implementing Leader in Me at her school? “We’re at the beginning. If this is just the beginning, what does it look like 4 years from now? It’s incredible!”

Meg came away from the Enrichment Fair completely inspired by what Mychael and the amazing team at her school have been able to accomplish to inspire leaders with all of the children at the school. In fact, Meg said she got a bit teary-eyed both driving up to the school, and driving away, thinking, “People in THAT home are going to be impacted; people in THAT neighborhood are going to be impacted. You’re not just looking at kids, or teachers, or families, but whole communities. These are kids who didn’t believe they can get a job, go to college, so you’re giving them hope. What kind of a price tag can you put on giving hope, for a kid who’s life could be different than he’s told it’s going to be?”

Leader in Me in Action