Elsanor School promotes ‘Happy Families’

Program helps parents relate to Leader In Me principles taught to students

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 1/25/17

ELSANOR, Alabama — If your child came up to you and said “Mom/dad, you are not putting enough deposits into my Emotional Bank Account,” would you know what that means?

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Elsanor School promotes ‘Happy Families’

Program helps parents relate to Leader In Me principles taught to students

Elsanor School guidance counselor Patty Mulkey teaches the “Happy Families” program to a group of parents at the school.
Elsanor School guidance counselor Patty Mulkey teaches the “Happy Families” program to a group of parents at the school.
JOHN UNDERWOOD / GCM STAFF PHOTOS
Posted

ELSANOR, Alabama — If your child came up to you and said “Mom/dad, you are not putting enough deposits into my Emotional Bank Account,” would you know what that means?

If you are not familiar with the “Leader In Me” program or the “7 Habits …” series of books by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, then chances are you won’t, but a new program at Elsanor School is hoping to change that.

Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a nationwide best seller and the “Leader In Me” program, which has been implemented in several Baldwin County’s schools, including Elsanor, is based on the “7 Habits of Happy Kids” follow-up.

The new Happy Families program at Elsanor School, led by Principal Susan Runnels and school counselor Patty Mulkey, is based on the book “The 7 Habits of Successful Families.”

“It’s really all about parents being able to speak the same language as their kids,” said Tammy Morrison, Elsanor’s reading specialist, who helps with the Leader In Me program at the school. “This is something that these kids are learning every day and it helps the parents if they know what their kids are talking about.”

The series, which began last year, meets in hour-long sessions every other month beginning with an introduction in August, followed by lessons with the first two habits in October, habits 3 and 4 in January, then finishing with habits 5, 6, and 7 in March.

All of the 7 Habits books follow the same basic principles: Habit 1: Be Proactive; Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind; Habit 3: Put First Things First; Habit 4: Think Win-Win; Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood; Habit 6: Synergize; and Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.

“This is more than just a school program,” Mulkey said, “these are principles that will take these kids through the rest of their lives and we think the parents can benefit from it as well.”

The first two habits and the last habit, Mulkey said, are about the students and parents working on themselves. The rest are about interacting with others, whether they are fellow students or family members.

The Emotional Bank Account is part of Habit 4: Think Win-Win and is about providing positive, rather than negative reinforcement.

So far, Mulkey said, about 15 to 20 parents participate in the Happy Families program, mostly mothers of students, but there is one couple who regularly attends the sessions, along with another father and two grandmothers, both of whom are not the child’s primary caregiver.

“Our hope is that these parents will come away with a positive experience from this,” Mulkey said. “They will, in turn, tell other parents who will want to participate.”

A Leadership Day for the school’s Leader In Me program will be held Feb. 22, Mulkey said.

“The children do everything,” she said. “They greet the parents, organize performances and lead the entire program. There is a small question and answer session that involves the principal and a couple of parents, but other than that, it is all about the students.”

The final Happy Families session for the 2016-17 school year will be held March 15 beginning at 8 a.m. at the school.

If you would like to learn more about the program, you can call the school at 251-947-5401. For information about Dr. Stephen R. Covey, the 7 Habits series and the Leader In Me series, visit stephencovey.com.