Friday afternoons at Mt. Pilchuck Elementary School are a time that the students excitedly anticipate each week. No, it's not because they get to leave school 90 minutes early; it's the dozens of workshops the kids get to enjoy for the last hour of class each Friday.
Through the school's The Leader in Me Program, teachers offer not only leadership training and opportunities but each teacher also offers a special workshop in six-week courses so that every student in the school gets the opportunity to try new and exciting experiences.
The over two dozen offerings include candy making, Swahili, fishing, line dancing, a Pokemon Club and even video making. There are several other workshops that the students get to choose from during each six-week course.
If you ask the students what their favorite part of The Leader in Me program is most of them will tell you that it is the Sharpening the Paw Workshops on Fridays.
First grader Molly Colvin said she loves Sharpening the Paw, "Because you get to do fun things." Colvin has been enjoying the candy making class this workshop session.
Another favorite part of the program is learning to organize your ideas and put first things first.
"I think it's helped me by remembering to put first things first and seek to understand first," fourth grade student Kiley Hill said. "Now I think I should listen to other people's ideas first."
The Leader in Me program is a Stephen R. Covey program and teaches students how to be leaders.
"We're teaching kids how to lead their own life effectively," Mike Forsyth, Client Partner with Franklin Covey Education said. "Each child is unique with greatness in them."
This $40,000 program has become an asset to Mt. Pilchuck but getting the funds together has been a challenge.
Principal Chris Larson explained that the funding for Mt. Pilchuck has come from several different entities including the Lake Stevens Education Foundation, Tulalip Tribes Charitable Funds, Lake Stevens Kiwanis, Rotary and Chamber of Commerce and most of the funding came from Mt. Pilchuck PTA and through a student fundraiser, "Principal on the Roof."
The effects of the program are obvious when you walk through the doors of the school and take a moment to speak to the students. Each student knows how The Leader in Me program works and they use those skills to carry on conversations with each other and adults alike. The kids are friendly and outgoing and even the shyer students are learning that they too can be a leader and achieve their dreams.
Fifth grade teacher Angie Kendall said it best when she said, "We want the kids to find what they're passionate about."
The workshops and The Leader in Me program are guiding the students to find the things that they love all while appreciating one another's differences and opinions.