Newark Central School District staff members recently received two days of training in Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” as part of a districtwide initiative to integrate the positive behavioral and emotional qualities and traits in school culture.
“This is the start of what we want to be pervasive in our district so we can really help students,’’ said Matt Cook, superintendent.
The training was provided to 70 members of the district’s nearly 500 staff members by Vicky Gilmore, a consultant from FranklinCovey.
FranklinCovey provides content, tools, methodology, training and thought leadership with the aim of delivering incremental and transformational results. Its reach extends to more than 150 countries, with over 2,000 associates working toward its mission of enabling greatness in people and organizations.
Newark Middle School was the first in the district to begin implementing a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports program with the introduction of Sean Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens” in 2015. In 2016, the program was expanded to include sixth-graders. Seventh-graders built on what they learned the previous year, and eighth-graders learned lessons from another one of Sean Covey’s books, “The Six Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make.”
NMS Principal Teresa Prinzi said the intent was to help provide students with the tools they need to make informed and wise decisions, build common expectations and independence and empower students to achieve academic success as well as grow socially and emotionally in a safe environment.
Student leaders at all three grade levels were incorporated in 2016, providing students with an active role, ownership and a voice in helping to promote a positive school culture.
Principles from Sean Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Happy Kids” were rolled out to students at Perkins School on a smaller scale in 2016.
District behavioral staff recommended the FranklinCovey approach as a districtwide program to bolster positive behavior. The board of education decided to revise its goals this year around FranklinCovey principles.
“The FranklinCovey qualities and traits are what we want all students to exit our district with when they graduate,’’ Cook said.
The recent initial staff training represented the full spectrum of district employees, including board of education members Susie Earl; Russ Harris, president; and Tom Ledbetter.
Krista Lewis, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the next step would be to assemble a team of effective NCSD trainers from among those receiving the recent training to train other district staff in the FranklinCovey principles.
Brian Malchoff, who served as NMS school psychologist during the first year of implementation of the Sean Covey principles and utilized similar, age-appropriate ones at Perkins school as a school counselor, was one of the staff members receiving training at Wayne-Finger Lakes Conference Center.
“I love this,’’ Malchoff said. “I really enjoy the fact that this training is geared toward educators, us learning the principles and how they function within ourselves in order to help us to live that culture and infuse it into our everyday lives and in our work with students. The principles are a great way to look at yourself and how to view things and your mindset.”
NMS sixth- and eighth-grade social studies teacher Lisa Eakins, who was actively involved in the implementation of the principles at NMS, said she was found the July training helpful.
“This training has given us more insight, tools and techniques to use with our students,’’ she said. “It’s been very helpful.
Lincoln School kindergarten teacher Meredith Calabretta said she thought the FranklinCovey training was unveiling less of a program and more of a way of life she believes will help staff to become more effective in modeling behaviors they want students to emulate.
Kelley School psychologist Sara McLean said the FranklinCovey habits provide tools in problem solving with students. She said reflecting on the principles will enable her not only to support teachers and students but aid her in her own life and profession.
“Following those habits will make me a better psychologist,’’ she said.
NHS Principal Tom Roote said the ultimate benefit of the principles is to ready the mind for learning. He said being better able to help facilitate students’ social and emotional wellness is conducive to learning.
“Wellness comes as a result of good, healthy grasp of the seven habits,” Roote said.
Cook said the training that will ultimately include all district staff is a first step in promoting the FranklinCovey language and philosophy throughout the entire school district.
“This will give us consistency in language and approach in all five schools,” Cook said.
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