Friday, September 2, 2016

Tips For Becoming a Lighthouse School

I will never forget the day we had our informal review to determine if we could apply for "Lighthouse Status."  This is the Holy Grail of the Leader in Me Initiative, and an extremely high honor for any school that obtains it.  We had been implementing the Leader in Me for four years, and were just sure we were ready!  Well it didn't take long for us to realize... WE WEREN'T!  As the reviewer began to explain to us all the things we weren't doing right, and that we needed to "go deeper" and that it wasn't "ubiquitous" (I had to look that word up),  I have to admit, I was crushed! However, two years later, I am so glad she did!  We as a school decided to really tighten up on the suggestions that she gave, and made a goal that by 2016, we'd have it!  Well, in May of 2016, we GOT IT!  I wanted to share with you the top 5 things we did to deepen our implementation of the Leader in Me.

Leadership tools are HUGE in the Leader in Me Initiative.  If you're confused about what those are.  Go the their website and check out all that are available to you.  Leadership tools really deepen student's understanding of the information, and provides an clean and easy way of connecting the habits with the content!

We THOUGHT we had the whole WIG thing nailed, but soon we realized that it wasn't enough to just slap some goals on the bulletin board, and track them.  We had to connect them to what each classroom was doing as well.  You see, the goal of the Leader in Me is to help kids understand that what they do impacts the class, which impacts the school, which impacts the community, which impacts the world!  When we really starting focusing on that concept, we began to see HUGE changes in our students.  Every day we ask the kids to ask themselves this one question, "What am I doing to make McNeill a better place than it was yesterday?"  I'm not kidding, this was life changing for many students.  We began seeing students take the initiative to help raise money to fund equipment for students with special needs, conduct drives to help the salvation army, and toys for tots.  It was all led by the students!  So make sure that your School Wide WIGS connects with classroom WIGS.  Here's an example, One of our three WIGS was for Accelerated Reader.  Each class had a WIG for Accelerated Reader, and each student was charting their own goal for Accelerated Reader.  Get it?  It's actually so simple and much more manageable than you'd think.

Make sure EVERYONE has a mission statement.  This includes the Nurse, the Principal, the Counselor, the Janitor, the Librarian, etc. Having a mission statement posted demonstrates that the school as a whole is Beginning with the End in Mind.  Our school mascot is a an admiral, so I incorporated that into my theme.  Here's a picture of my Mission statement.  

I am here to tell everyone that whether you're a lighthouse school, or just starting out with the Leader In Me, it works!  This initiative has helped shape leaders that might not otherwise have seem themselves as such.  Not only this, but it has created a culture in our school and among the staff that has empowered them in their teaching.  I LOVE The Leader in Me and am always happy to help if you have questions, or need resources.  Just email me at


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