Stories » EMCSD Schools Earn Lighthouse Status–Columbia, Cortada, Durfee and Wilkerson

EMCSD Schools Earn Lighthouse Status–Columbia, Cortada, Durfee and Wilkerson

Columbia, Cortada, Durfee and Wilkerson have officially earned Lighthouse Status for their Leader In Me program through the collective efforts from the students, teachers, and families involved within the community of the El Monte City School District (EMCSD). Leader In Me is an evidence-based, comprehensive improvement model that was developed in partnership with educators to empower students with leadership and life skills needed to thrive in the 21st century.

Schools participating in the program dedicate themselves to living out the 7 Habits of Happy Kids that are used to help students address challenges they may face during their formative years. These habits are: (1) Be Proactive, (2) Begin With the End in Mind, (3) Put First Things First; (4) Think Win-Win, (5) Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood, (6) Synergize, and (7) Sharpen the Saw.

12 of EMCSD’s 14 schools are now at Lighthouse Status. Columbia, Cortada, Durfee, and Wilkerson join Cherrylee, Gidley, LeGore, Potrero, Rio Hondo, Rio Vista, Shirpser, and Wright as Lighthouse Schools across the district. Each school emphasized the importance that the teachers had in implementing these habits inside the classroom. “Teachers worked very hard to get students to understand the 7 habits and then “Live” them every day,” explained Cortada Principal, Carl Caston.

All schools have been thrilled to receive this accomplishment and have been congratulated community- wide. Everyone is enthusiastic and proud of the work that they have done to get to this point. “It was a whole team effort. Every member of the school community played a role in the accomplishment of this achievement,” said Columbia Principal, Doris Tran.

Following the 7 Habits of Happy Kids, Durfee had staff bestow the students with more responsibilities around campus. “[We] have been implementing the philosophy of Leader in Me by having students facilitate the assemblies and take the reins as leaders” explained Durfee Principal, Gerardo Yepez. He has since seen a change in atmosphere within the school assemblies. “A lot of school spirit is going on and the presence of our student leaders make the environment lively.” Principal Yepez wants to continue to raise the bar and to foster an environment that supports the students in their endeavors as leaders.

Principal Caston believes Cortada excelled in Habit 1: Be Proactive and Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind. “We are focused on where we want our students to be at the end of the year,” said Principal Caston. “Teachers are focused on teaching the seven habits weekly. Watching the progression that the students have made from the beginning of the year to the end. Everyone has worked hard to meet their own goals by the end of the year."

“Our goal is to make the Habits ubiquitous in students' everyday life, at home and school” stated Principal Tran. This is her first year as Principal at Columbia and has made strides in redefining the systems in place to continue assisting her school community. “Everyone was really receptive with suggestions and recommendations they had for each other.” Habit 5: Seek First to Understand translates to the community’s openness and collaborative environment that welcomed Principal Tran.

Even after their titles are awarded this year, everyone plans on continuing to follow the habits in order to get recertified in two years.