By Justin Seward
St. Michael’s School began offering two programs under the umbrella of FranklinCovey Education this year.
FranklinCovey’s focus is for K-12 and higher education students to learn through training, coaching, materials and culture transformation process.
St. Michael’s principal Chris Sumner initially mentioned the program to staff last June, saying that the program was excellent for socio-learning and is researched-based.
“He came to us and said, ‘Is this something we can do as a whole for every single student in our school,’” said Jill Weatherhead, a St. Michael’s staff Lighthouse team member.
“It’s not just a one off or this is just going to hit the junior highs or this is going to hit just the elementary. This is something that every student in our school can benefit from. This is something we all need because it really targets the socio-emotional learning, which of course has to do with our mental health and we all know how important mental health is over the last 15 months with the pandemic. When he came to us and said, ‘If everyone is on board, I’m willing to fight for us to get this program,’ and we did. It was (a) unanimous decision across staff just because we knew that this was something that our students and all of the youth in the world today would benefit from.
The two programs at St. Michael’s include the Leader in Me for K-9 students and high school students are learning the Seven Habits of Highly Effected Teens.
“Both of those piggy back from ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey, which has been the best-selling book for the last 30 odd years,” said Weatherhead.
“We are taking those principles from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and translating them into programming for everybody from Kindergarten, from five-years-old, all the way (to) it doesn’t even stop at Grade 12, because it very much something that goes into the home and affects even our staff because of course we have to learn along with the kids.”
Weatherhead said it is a structured three-year program, but is something that can continue for decades with the right people in the lead.
“Of course, we’re only in year one, so we’ve got some big steps ahead of us,” she said.
“But we have some pretty good things already. Of course, the education piece at the beginning, there’s a lot to learn for staff, for the kids. We’ve tried to teach their parents a few things—but it definitely takes time. It’s a slow investment with great rewards down the road. We’re holding to that, we’re seeing the results that other schools have seen in their year’s three, four, five and we’re enjoying the little rewards that we see along the way.”
The lessons that have been taught in year one include everyone has a genius and everyone can be a leader, the seven habits, how to decide, how to take responsibility for yourself then help others and be a voice for other people.
“Those things have helped us this year,” she said.
“So, things like resilience. When we are forced again into online learning and not knowing when we’re going to go back. It’s kind of helping the kids with that, knowing that they can do hard things.”
When students learned their sports were shut down, they learned how to turn their frustration into positive actions steps.
“We can write a letter, we can set up a meeting with our superintendent, we can express ourselves (and) we can find some data to back ourselves up,” she said.
“In the end, did they get what they wanted—no, unfortunately. Sports were shut down indefinitely, but they had an outlet for it instead of that complaining and sort of anger feeding off of more anger or frustration.”
The school is committed for three years in which time students will receive support from Franklin Covey Education Institute’s coaches and mentors.
The goal for next year is to educate the families more on the programs.
“We hope to move into more parent information nights,” said Weatherhead.
The school has also talked about the idea of student leadership notebooks, where the students would own their learning goal regularly and always are updated.