Program churning leaders out of youngsters - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Program churning leaders out of youngsters

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     Youngsters at Cresmont Elementary school in Northport are truly powerful young leaders in the making.  Its all thanks to a program called the Leader In Me where students take seven habits serious to take control of their future at their young ages.

     But, 3rd grade teacher Travis Rhodes is really taking is classes progress to the extreme in a good way -- to where the students truly believe they'll be leading their generation in the near future.  "I am a leader. I want to be a leader everyday," said student Devon Collins without being provoked or even asked.

     Teacher Rhodes has signs like 'Champions' and 'Game Plan' plastered all over his walls.  And in big bold cut-out letters above his desk a bulletin board reads 'We Will Lead'.

     He runs his classroom like a company.  Students have to keep a neat --data book--...more like a resume of their grades, homework, classwork and use it as presentation to fill out an actual application and interview for classroom job-duties.  "Show their grades, show their work...prove why they should work for this company," said Rhodes.  He believes the idea merges well with the classroom curriculum and says he's seen the students use the leadership-skills to take charge of their assignments like never before.  "There's been many times in reading where I've said hey was this person in our story proactive or in science did this volcano cause something to happen."

    For student Macie Lancaster, it all goes back to that number one habit "Begin with the End in Mind," she quoted.  "That means that I really have to think before I start to do something."

    "That means, think before you talk," said one classmate who backed her up.  In fact, the program seems to be so successful -- it seemed most of the students only wanted to talk business...like the little leaders they've become.  "I feel like an adult applying for a job," student Collins exclaimed.