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‘Habits’ to help build student leadership

ENCINITAS — Christie Kay envisions La Costa Heights Elementary being full of students, teachers and staff trained to become highly effective people.

All it takes is seven habits.

Kay, the principal at the Carlsbad school, has embarked on bringing Franklin Covey’s “The Leader in Me” program, an offshoot of self-help author Franklin Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” to the school.

The school received a $52,000 matching grant from FranklinCovey, the training and consulting firm that markets the Covey self-help series, to help it train teachers, staff and parents in the seven habits.

Ultimately, she said, the program will reap benefits such as higher attendance, improved problem solving and conflict resolution, and more motivated students.

“The school is really pumped up for this,” Kay said.

Covey’s “Seven Habits,” one of the most popular self-help manuals, provides of blueprint of sorts for people to become better at goal setting, time management, self-motivation and interpersonal relations.

Kay, a first-year principal at the school, learned about the program at her former post in Fallbrook, where the entire school district started implementing the seven habits as she was leaving.

She said her predecessor at La Costa Heights left the school primed for the program.

“The school was really working toward every child having their own voice, which is really the first step towards adopting the seven habits,” Kay said this week. “A lot of what we do here, our projects and our programs, are student driven. Many of our students are already strong leaders. This will only strengthen these leadership skills.”

Kay arranged for administrators and teachers to take a field trip earlier this year to Fallbrook to see the habits in practice. Everyone returned impressed, some teachers started teaching their kids about the seven habits.

And some children started taking it home, she said.

“One of our students, she went home and started talking to her mom about thinking with the end in mind (one of the habits) and putting it to practice at home,” Kay said. “The mother loved it.”

The next step for La Costa Heights is to raise the matching funds for the program, which Kay said she plans to enlist the help of the school’s parent groups and seek corporate sponsorships.

If all works out, teacher and administrator training will begin next fall, she said.