STILLMAN VALLEY, Ill. (WTVO) — Elementary schools in the Meridian School District are in their third year of using a Character Education Curriculum.
The program is based on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” from Stephen Covey, and administrators call it a game changer.
“They’re learning the Habits and how they can use them in all of the choices they make not just at school but at home as well and in their life, in their personal lives,” said Deana Simpson, Principal of Monroe Center Elementary.
Simpson said the children learn to grow when they carry out the seven habits.
“They help the school. And then we learn a lesson about them and then kids follow it,” said Mallory King, a fourth grader at Monroe Center Elementary.
Living the Habits help students become more responsible and independent.
“Be pro-active is one of the top rules. And you should really be more nice to people and not argue and fight,” said Vince Schamper, fifth grader at Monroe Center Elementary.
The students understand the Habits and know how to put them into practice.
“I use put first thing first a lot,” said Colt Matson, second grader at Highland. “You work before you play. You say you have math and your like, ‘I really want to play on my trampoline’ or something
Charlotte Neeld a second grader at Highland Elementary explained what one of the habits means.
“Synergize kind of means like, if you know them but you don’t, like it’s not really your friend, it kind of means, don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” Neeld said.
Highland Elementary Principal, Joe Mulikin said since implementing the program, the entire culture of the building has changed dramatically.
Teachers and staff regularly model the Habits for the kids.
“What they’re catching from the adults is positive character, ways to be good problem solvers, is how to positively interact with friends and with peers,” Mulikin said. “So it’s just exciting to see that type of thing happening all the time. Whether it’s the playground, whether in classrooms, whether it’s in the hallway, they get that positive reinforcement all the time.”
That positive reinforcement has led to students seeking out leadership roles.
Christa Papke, fifth grade teacher at Monroe Center explained how integrated students are with the school’s functions.
“Assemblies are student led. When there are gatherings of other people in the community that come into our building, the students are there to greet them,” Papke said. “The students have the responsibilities and the leadership roles.”
“It’s a phenomenal practice. It’s not really a curriculum. It’s really a lifestyle,” Simpson said.