Making sure students are on the right track is a fundamental component each school tries to keep central, and Kyrene de los Cerritos Elementary School has been infusing these fundamentals within its students with its Leadership Academy.

The Leadership Academy has been a philosophy at Cerritos for the past four years, and throughout every class each student is taught the “7 Habits of a Happy Kid” to be followed in and out of school.

The school eases the philosophy to students while they’re in kindergarten, and continue to mold it into their learning genetics to prepare them for success.

The seven habits are a mixture of outlooks consisting of being proactive, putting business ahead of pleasure, having a winner’s mentality, being a listener before a speaker, synergize and having balance in life.

Fourth-grade teacher Kali McKenna believes the Leadership Academy helps each student conduct themselves in a respectful manner, and tends to see fewer “cliques” forming inside the school.

“They’re just happier,” she said.

Along with infusing the seven habits in their daily lives, students are taught to create different goals to be achieved in the near future, and later down the road.

Goals are divided into two different categories: Widely Important Goals (WIGS), an academic goal to be achieved, and Pretty Important Goals (PIGS) focusing on a personal achievement such as a behavioral goal.

“I have students who want to learn how to do a cartwheel; I have students who want to learn how to juggle a soccer ball different ways… they vary,” McKenna said.

“If you don’t have something that you’re trying to work towards, you’re not going to be as balanced. If you’re trying to work for something like bring math scores up, then you have to work towards that,” said fourth-grader Landen Powell. “That’s what goals is all about… that’s why we use the goals here at Cerritos to incorporate them here to get better and improve ourselves.”

Powell has been incorporating the seven habits into his daily life by dividing playtime with his younger brother so both are able to have an equal amount of time in what they like to do.

He also shares the seven habits method to others by conducting different speeches at the University of Phoenix to spread the word on how to keep youthful minds proactive.

“With my speeches I tell in detail what the seven habits are, that way they can bring it home and tell their families,” he said.

Before winter break, students shared with one another their Data Passports, an extensive log that reflects on students’ learning, to see if they have made any improvements since the beginning of the year.

“They take such ownership. I have students that want to take them over winter break to show their progress to their parents,” McKenna said. “I really feel that this has implemented these life-long skills that they’re going to be able to use forever.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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