Leading the way: Students show off benefits of program

Published Saturday, February 9, 2019
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As the Chisholm Trail drumline played and cheerleaders lined the hall, fourth grader Mary Grace Dierling extended her hand to welcome and greet every visitor to Prairie View Elementary Friday morning.

TAKING CHARGE – Amelia Ryan and Lamar Robinson led a group around Prairie View Elementary during the Leader in Me Dallas Symposium’s site visit Friday. Educators from across the country visited the Rhome campus during the event. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

Dierling guided guests to the cafeteria for a short production before student-led tours of the Rhome campus. The site visit for educators from as far away as Michigan was part of the Leader in Me Dallas Symposium.

Fifth grader Amelia Ryan and third grader Lamar Robinson took one group of 10 visitors through the halls, past the walls filled with information about the habits of effective leaders, and into classrooms.

“It’s fun. It was scary at first doing [the tours] with a lot more people,” Ryan said. “The last time, I had two. This time there’s 10.”

Robinson chimed in: “We were nervous at first. Now, I’m relaxed.”

The tours gave visitors a chance to see the character-building, leadership and social skills program in action. Prairie View and Seven Hills each played host to groups Friday.

It was Prairie View’s third year to serve as a host.

Watching in the hall as her students led groups to various classrooms, Prairie View Principal Yolanda Wallace was not surprised to see the efficiency and professionalism of her students.

“If we let go of the controls as adults, they are incredible,” Wallace said. “It’s really given a voice to kids that have traditionally held back or that are shy.”

Students from kindergarten through fifth grade were involved in the program.

“We grow our leaders from the youngest kid,” Wallace said. “We want them to be ready for when the older kids move on.”

Wallace said they get visitors throughout the year, but this is their biggest event.

“We host five to six schools interested in Leader in Me one per month, giving tours and answering questions,” Wallace said.

During the visit to Gayla Whorton’s classroom, students greeted visitors and then took them to their desks to show off their work. Easton Van Slyke flipped through his folder, showing his progress in class and his various duties, including helping with chairs and supplies.

“I love my jobs,” he said.

He also talked about Friday’s lesson on writing lead sentences.

Ryan and Robinson soon led the way to another classroom. Roenia Snowden of Dallas ISD’s H.I. Holland at Lisbon Elementary expressed her awe watching the students.

“I’m truly amazed by this. It’s inspiring to me as an adult,” Snowden said. “I’ve always been shy about talking in front of others.

“We’re considering trying to do this and are trying to figure out how to implement it. Our demographics are very similar and that’s why I wanted to visit here.”

In the same tour group with Snowden was Northwest High School Principal Carrie Jackson.

“It’s incredible to see them building the social skills they need for post-graduation at this age,” Jackson said. “This gives them such a head start going into Chisholm Trail and eventually Northwest.”

After the tours, a group of students led a panel discussion. Ryan said she was part of a panel in Dallas Thursday in front of 500 people. She gave credit to the Leader in Me program for preparing her for the event.

“It’s helped me be more confident in front of a crowd. I’m better at answering questions,” Ryan said.

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