Pryor School Superintendent Don Raleigh spoke to the Pryor Area Chamber of Commerce at the Graham Community Center Dec. 12.
He talked about the program The Leader in Me, based on Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People book.
“We started three years ago. We started that conversation, and boy did I open a Pandora’s box. The training is very expensive to do what we are going to do, what we wanted to do. It was going to be a challenge.” Raleigh said he bought the book The Leader in Me for his teachers because he wanted them to read it and in his words, “own it” in order to implement the ideas.
Raleigh brought this program to the school because he had fifth, sixth, and seventh graders he said, “were not discipline problems, they just didn’t want to do anything.”
“We have to teach them how to learn,” Raleigh said.
Raleigh wants students to have a set of skills so they can work with others to get things accomplished. The Covey books call this “synergizing.”
Raleigh talked about “Sharpening the Saw,” which means getting physically active and eating right.
To get the students to implement these behaviors, they were given jobs at the school. He talked about getting the students to set goals for themselves and keeping track of those goals.
Raleigh said that Pryor schools are one of the few in the entire nation using this program.
In three years, Raleigh said the program has been sowing seeds among the students to take responsibility for their own actions. The students he said are more engaged now in learning.
Senior Corey Soap spoke about the benefits of this program. He said the program had motivated the students to prepare the high school for the student council convention in November.
“Students really stepped up and engaged in what they were doing to accomplishing their goals,” Soap said. The end result, Soap said, was the Burdick Center looked like a concert was coming.
The food service during the convention was managed by the students. Soap said the day before the convention, students were working at the Burdick Center until 2 a.m. Soap said the school motto is, “Pryor High School: Where real leaders are made.”
Senior Matt Ray spoke about how The Leader Within program helped him prepare for the student council convention. He talked about borrowing chairs from area churches for this convention.
Ray said during the convention, he had no trouble finding student volunteers to help him, due to this program.
Soap said when students have an idea, their teachers tell them to do it on their own rather than have it done for them. He believes this is going to better prepare the students for life after school.
Raleigh said before the convention, a teacher led the student group in cleaning the Burdick Center and she needed them to clean the toilets. One student responded, “Okay, where do I get my gloves?”
“Union student council, in Tulsa, is going to have it on the wall, ‘Where do I get my gloves?’ Because it was the biggest piece of inspiration that these kids didn’t care what it took, they were going to do it,” Raleigh said.
In other news Raleigh said the junior high is undergoing a total transformation. A kitchen and commissary are being built in addition to two new classrooms. The bathrooms are being remodeled and a new secure entrance is being built.
Raleigh said there is a great deal of migration in an out of the county, which has been a challenge for the school district. Students may be enrolled in the school for three or four months and then migrate. “We are going to teach mitosis next week and they move and Salina taught it two weeks ago,” Raleigh said. He said this migration is due to poverty.