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November 13, 2018 • Headline News
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Milan students ‘find their genius’ through school leadership initiative

JARED ROGERS PHOTO
Aiden, Abigail and Kiera make up the school’s laundry crew. They wash, fold, and deliver clean swimsuits for the PE swimming program.


Jared Rogers
ASSISTANT EDITOR


Anyone following economic news lately knows unemployment rates are the lowest they’ve been in Indiana for a long time. Milan Elementary, Intermediate, and Middle schools are also experiencing this boom, with more students participating in “jobs” at school than ever before.

Now, this reporter isn’t actually writing about paid positions or children actually “working” at school - the responsibilities students are carrying are more of a practice-run compared to the real thing, meant to help them build essential life skills.

For example, fourth graders Abigail, Aiden, and Kiera are on this semester’s laundry crew, and they love it. The trio’s tasks include gathering up swimsuits from the PE office that need to be washed, loading them into the machine in the back of the café, measuring out the soap, and setting the machine to run while they are in class. At the end of the process, they deliver clean swimsuits for their fellow students to use the next week back to the PE office.

This example, among many others, is part of a larger program Milan schools have implemented for the last four years called, “The Leader in Me.” The Leader in Me program is based off of the bestselling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. The “jobs” portion of the program is meant to help students feel a sense of purpose at their school, learn qualities like accountability, and promote a positive, helpful culture.
Currently, students in grades two through eight are eligible to apply for jobs, which are completed on a semester basis. Just like the process found in “real life,” students pick up a job application, fill it out and turn it in, and then interview for the position. Many of the questions asked by coordinators Danielle Huddleson (also elementary school special education teacher) and Stephanie Schwing-Stamper (also Social Services coordinator for K-8) are similar in nature to those asked in an actual job interview. “The best feeling is seeing their face when they find out they have been hired,” Huddleson shared of the process.

As students complete their responsibilities, they are rewarded for high performance through recognitions like “Employee of the Month,” and must also answer to inquiries from Mrs. Huddleson or Mrs. Schwing-Stamper if they are falling short of expectations.

Currently, there are over 50 different positions available for students to choose from school-wide. Emphasis is also being placed in individual classrooms to create tasks for students on daily or weekly basis. The goal is to have every student in school feel as though they are involved in the greater good of the culture. Huddleson and Schwing-Stamper hope to “bring out the genius” in each student through their participation in the leadership-building activities.

“I can help teach younger students and be a good example to others,” one student wrote in a survey from their teachers asking about their thoughts on the program. “We know that accomplishments are the foundation of self-esteem, and providing these students with opportunities to excel adds to not only the school experience, but also provides the opportunity to build confidence and self-worth,” Schwing-Stamper wrote, continuing, “For students who do not necessarily excel academically, having a school job and doing well with it gives him/her that chance to shine.”

Whether working on the laundry crew, flag crew, or being a café assistant, students at Milan are building skills for their future - whatever “job” that might turn out to be.



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