CEDAR FALLS — Sean Covey was raised in a “seven habitshome.”
His father, Stephen Covey, spent years researching the habits ofeffective people and used his own family as guinea pigs, theyounger Covey said. Eventually, Stephen Covey penned “The 7 Habitsof Highly Effective People.” his son, who first read the book incollege, was not impressed.
“My first impression was it was really boring,” Sean Covey toldthe group that gathered at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing ArtsCenter Monday night for the launch of the Leader Valley initiative.But, over time, he began to see the wisdom in his father’s wordsand eventually Sean authored his own bestseller, “The 7 Habits ofHighly Effective Teens.”
Fourteen years ago principal Muriel Summers used the elderCovey’s findings to develop a program — later dubbed Leader in Me— that would turn her failing school around.
“I don’t know what it is like in Iowa, but in North Carolina themessage we are sending our children is their worth and value is ascore on a piece of paper,” Summers said. “We need to stop themadness. what you have seen tonight, the kindness and support, thecreativity, nothing on any test measures what we are seeing. These are life skills that our children are learning that will helpnavigate them through life.”
Steve Dust, president of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance,helped bring Leader in Me to the community about two years agoalong with Bob Justis, Alliance vice president for communitydevelopment. Schools in Waterloo and Cedar Falls have adopted theLeader in Me program, which helps develop life skills students needin order to thrive, according to theleaderinme.org. more schoolsare expected to come on board in the coming years.
Now, the organization, along with the Greater Cedar ValleyChamber, is launching Leader Valley to work with educators on moreinitiatives that will facilitate working partnerships amongbusinesses, educators, administrators and the community.
“This is an amazing group of students that will hopefully havean impact on the economic growth of the Cedar Valley,” Dustsaid.
Several local students shared their experiences with the Leaderin Me and even more helped entertain the crowd with their versionof the University of Northern Iowa’s Interlude Dance — the CedarValley Leaderlude.
Mallorie Sckerl, a North Cedar Elementary School graduate,explained that each piece of the dance corresponded with one of theseven habits outlined in Covey’s book.
Chris Sink, a senior at Columbus High School, said the school’sfootball team has followed the habits for several years.
“The Covey training has showed us what we had to do on and offthe field,” Sink said. He told the crowd about a young boy at afootball camp who told Sink he regularly watched the Sailors playand would specifically look for Sink on the field.
“I know that during the game, if I’m not proactive, butreactive, (the boy) will see that and do the same during hisgames,” Sink said, using the common language laid out in theleadership program to show the crowd how he lived the habits everyday.
Summers, who shared several of her own Leader in Me successstories, applauded the students and the community for theircommitment to the program.
“We need to remember tonight, because it is quite historic thata community can come together to celebrate its children andcelebrate its future,” Summers said.