Leadership Day 2023

Eugene Field hosts 10th annual Leadership Day
Posted on 04/18/2023
Patricia Thigpen

Eugene Field Elementary School hosted its 10th annual Leadership Day, showcasing how the students have found their voice before approximately 100 patrons on Thursday, April 6, in the gymnasium.

Themed ‘Eugene Field takes on the world,’ this year’s event featured performances, skits and a classroom tour demonstrating how "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" have permeated the school culture.

The elementary is presently up for its fourth recertification since achieving the coveted Lighthouse status under the initiative beginning in 2016, three years after joining only 5,000 educational institutions worldwide in becoming an official Leader in Me school.

“I was shocked that first and second graders knew their lines, were standing tall and speaking with confidence,” commented Angel Kellam, third grader Narijah Johnson’s grandmother, who traveled from Florida for the occasion. “The teachers and students are doing something extraordinary here that the world should know about.”

When asked, Narijah’s teacher Kristen Clements explained how the takeaway that attendees often find so moving is that “tiny humans, 6 and 7 years old, are working the mic and switching it out flawlessly. They have found their voice!”

Students have leadership roles on teams such as gardening, homestead, patriotic, photography, sportsmanship and the synergy club. Clements is the teacher sponsor over the GLEEders, who performed three songs during the event, closing out the show with a choreographed rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

At the start of the program, students explained how the first three habits including “beginning with the end in mind” focus on private victories while the remainder center on public victories like “seeking first to understand then to be understood.” The students also practice the five leadership paradigms, chief among them: "Students have the power to lead their own learning."

The eighth habit, Dr. Stephen Covey’s follow-up book, is to “find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.” Second grader Lance Burke, who serves as a math tutor for a first grader, explained during his speech: “Finding your voice means to find what you are good at and use that to be the best you can be. You can then use these skills to bring out the best in others.”

Students also shared the concept introduced to them about emotional bank accounts and how “leaders focus on making deposits” as in doing something kind to others rather than hurtful or “making a withdrawal.” Students then fill out deposit slips saved in the celebration section of their leadership binders that determine lead measures in order to track goals, according to second grader Alexandria Lawrence.

Eugene Field’s 2023 Leaders of the Year recognized were R-I Superintendent Dr. Scott Dill and Assistant Superintendent of Business Dr. Amy Jackson, both of whom are retiring from the Poplar Bluff school system in June. Dill was credited for visiting the students on the playground and helping “our principal and teachers be the best they can be.” Jackson was thanked for attending all nine in-person Leadership Days and ensuring “our school has the best teachers, and that teachers have what they need.”

Also recognized among several others in the audience for his returning presence over the years was Boys and Girls Club Director Chris Rushin. Afterward, Rushin shared how Leadership Day is one of his favorites of the school year, especially considering that he attended Eugene Field growing up.

“I’m struck by how clean, friendly and welcoming of an environment this is – the kids can’t help but be inspired,” Rushin said. “It makes me wonder about a lot of my classmates and what their lives may be like, had they gone through this.”


Cutline: Third grader Patricia Thigpen helps close out the show by leading the GLEEders in a high-energy performance.

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