Leadership Day 2024

11th annual Leadership Day signifies new era for Eugene Field
Posted on 04/23/2024
The GLEEders

Eugene Field hosted its 11th annual Leadership Day on Friday, April 19, themed “in our leadership era,” a nod to pop icon Taylor Swift’s ‘eras tour,’ before a full house of community leaders and education partners in the gymnasium.

The event showcased the Leader in Me program through which the elementary school has achieved four re-certifications since obtaining its prestigious lighthouse status under the initiative in 2016.

As part of a series of student-led performances, first grader Myles Allen shared with the audience how he practiced public speaking in front of another classroom to prepare for his role in Junior High’s Black History Month assembly held last month.

“I finally got comfortable and I spoke my lines loud and proud that day,” Myles recalled. “At first, I was a little nervous, but I took a deep breath and looked at my mom while I said my part. And look at me now!”

Myles explained how he used the second habit to ‘begin with the end in mind’ under Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which are separated into two categories: private and public victories. LIM is based on Covey’s best-seller as well as his five leadership paradigms, including ‘students have the power to lead their own learning.’

The presentation went on to illuminate how students use leadership binders to determine measures to track progress, for example, working their way out of reading intervention. The student body is additionally on track to meet its schoolwide attendance goal by increasing its rate by nearly 5 percent with the help of an incentive program involving therapy dog Fern.

Students also discussed how they are all members of leadership teams, with focuses like fun foods, gardening, homesteading, life skills and self-care. By synergizing, students have been able to engage in community service activities, donating to organizations such as FosterAdopt Connect, Hearts for Rescue and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“It’s the confidence they have inside to be able to talk to adults, witnessing them use their people skills, their mic skills, their persistence, their unity, their pride in school,” reacted T.J. Woodard, pastor of Bluff First Church. “It’s a different reality than what we’re [led to believe] about schools, especially public schools.”

A special recognition was presented prior to the classroom tour during which reading interventionists Juliana Schalk and Kristen Spain honored Principal Jennifer Taylor for her "guidance, vision and leadership" in applying for the original grant that ushered in LIM in 2013.

Taylor has instituted “something that makes people want to come to this school,” Spain stated. “Many of you send your children here because of Leader in Me. Many of you have family members who want to teach here because of Leader in Me. And it’s something that we very much intend to continue even after she leaves us.”

During the 2024/25 school year, Taylor will enter a new era of her own as R-I assistant superintendent of personnel. In addition to teaching students leadership characteristics, LIM has built a reputation of producing leaders out of its staff, with numerous faculty members advancing to become administrators, including one more such success story: Spain will follow Taylor as building principal.

Spain reflected afterward on how she initially transferred to Eugene Field from Oak Grove because of LIM in 2012. She remembered reaching out to Taylor, who previously served as reading interventionist, to mention how she was toying with the notion of introducing the habits in her second grade classroom. As timing would have it, Taylor happened to be on her way to attend an LIM symposium and let Spain in on her intentions to adopt the program schoolwide.

“It is not common for an administrator to remain in the same school or even the same district for as long as I have, but I have chosen this path because Eugene Field has been my heart and soul as a teacher and as a principal,” Taylor said following the recognition. “I’ve always felt the nudge to do more and give more to our district and community.

“Leaving is bittersweet,” Taylor continued, “but I am proud and confident that our students and staff will continue to thrive under Kristen Spain’s leadership.”


Cutline: Third grader Ellianna Slone and the GLEEders perform “Shake it Off,” concluding the 2024 Leadership Day program.

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