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‘Lighthouse’ status for school

Light the way: Sri Dasmesh chairman Tan Sri Ajit Singh (left) with McIntyre (second from right) cutting a cake in the shape of Lighthouse to commemorate the achievement.

WITH confident smiles and outstretched hands ready for a quick shake, students at Sri Dasmesh International School showcased their leadership skills during the school’s recent Leadership and Annual Awards day.

It is a day the school celebrates its successes with student performances and tours by students.

The event, however, was extra special this year.

Sri Dasmesh was named a “Leader in Me” Lighthouse school, an honour bestowed to only 176 schools worldwide by Franklin Covey Co, a global company specialising in performance improvement.

The Lighthouse status recognises outstanding achievements in school and student outcomes through the implementation of the “Leader in Me” model.

“As a Lighthouse school, the school has become a showcase for leadership skills and is a beacon for other schools in the country and around the world,” said FranklinCovey’s Vice President Bill McIntyre, who was present to make the announcement.

Sri Dasmesh began participating in the “Leader in Me” programme in 2012 and is the first school in Malaysia and one of just three in Asia to have been awarded the Lighthouse school status.

Currently, there are seven schools in Malaysia that are going through the “Leader in Me” process.

Worldwide, around 2,500 schools have applied the programme into their curriculums with measurable success, says McIntyre.

The “Leader in Me” programme is a school culture and transformation process based on the idea that every child can be a leader.

The programme and its Seven Habits are based on author Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

These seven habits, according to McIntyre are universal and transcend all cultures, plus ages.

The habits are be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand then be understood, synergise and sharpen the saw.

“We believe there is a potential leader in every child who can make a difference in society,” says McIntyre.

He says the “Leader in Me” is about developing the whole child – body, mind and heart so that they grow to be healthy, successful and happy, which will help prepare the child for opportunities and challenges in the future.

Elaborating further, Sri Dasmesh’s principal and CEO Jaswinder Kaur says that all over the world, there is a need to prepare children for life.

“We want them to be energised and maintain social and emotional balance.

“It starts with eating the right food for a healthy body, energising the mind and managing our emotions,” she says.

On achieving the (Lighthouse School) status, Jaswinder says that it was indeed an honour, culminating in a three-year process where the teachers say they can see a positive effect on students.

“We see them gaining self-confidence, courage and communication skills,” says Jaswinder.

The programme, she says, is about exploration of self.

“The first three habits — be proactive, begin with the end in mind and first things first – is about strengthening oneself.

“It’s about realising that your decisions determine the direction your life takes.”

Habits four to seven are about relationships or graduating from me to we.

“It helps one interact with each other and work well with others.

“Think win-win teaches one to seek solution that is mutually beneficial to all when problems arise, after that try to understand a person before making yourself understood.”

“Then you go on to synergise with the people around you to make the solution work, and finally you have to sharpen the saw, determine what is important in life and work on it.”

These are lifelong qualities that will prepare kids for a competitive job market where factors like goal setting, planning, time management, teamwork, conflict management, creativity and analytical skills come into play.

Jaswinder says the seven habits are also imparted daily in the day-to-day class activities and duties in school where students take charge wherever possible.

“For instance the murals illustrating leadership on the walls of the school were done entirely by its Year Nine and 10 students.”

Going forward, she says the school will continue to stay motivated and “light the way” for other schools in the country that have shown interest in adopting the programme.

Perhaps the greatest satisfaction one can get as an educator is “seeing students carry these habits beyond school and leaving their footprints on this earth”.

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