Leader in Me Madison County


In May 2012 a large meeting was held in Madison County to discuss steps that needed to be taken in order for our county to achieve the status of being a Work Ready Community which is a governor’s initiative carried by the Bluegrass Area Development District. The meeting featured every principal from the Madison County School system, 50+ business leaders from the community and the Superintendent of Madison County Schools at the time.

Group discussion was facilitated by a member of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce who posed two main questions to the group. The first being, “What can business and industry do for education?” and the second, “What can education do for business and industry?” These were the two questions that needed to be answered in order to begin the process of becoming a Work Ready community. After a Work Ready evaluation of the community there were only two areas where Madison County needed to improve. Out of six main criteria items these were NCRC (National Career Readiness Certificate) and soft skills. Lacking in only two areas deemed the county at that time “work ready in progress.”

After months of discussion which led to many different ideas of how to improve these areas and become Work Ready, one idea in particular stood out to many. This idea being the Leader in Me program based on Stephen Covey’s book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” The seven habits are:

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
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

 The Leader in Me Program takes these seven habits compiled by Covey and brings them down to a level that children can understand and then implements them holistically into the school curriculum.

Many businesses struggle with finding qualified applicants that have “soft skills” necessary to be successful employees. Soft skills by definition are “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” Examples of said skills are showing up to work on time, communicating effectively and basic teamwork. The conclusion that came from the work ready initiative was that integrating The Leader in Me program into the Madison County School system would encourage the learning of these soft skills at an early age, long before these students would be looking for jobs in our community. The only thing standing in the way of that group of business leaders placing the program in every Madison County School as soon as possible was funding. Unfortunately the program would be a very substantial investment for the community. However, there are success stories. The Bowling Green Kentucky Chamber has raised over 1.8 million dollars thanks to the community, partners and individuals. The Leader in Me Program is now in every school in Warren County because of these bold efforts.

After the program was in the works and the Madison County community was on its way to becoming Work Ready,  Abby White, principal at Glenn Marshall Elementary School, approached executive director of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Mendi Goble, and asked what she had to do to get The Leader in Me program for her school. Mendi assured her that she would be the first call she made once any word was received of possible funding. So when Mendi was contacted by a representative from Bluegrass Area Development District about possible funding, Abby was the first person called. In 2013 Glenn Marshall Elementary became the first school within the Madison County School district to integrate the Leader in Me program all thanks to a visionary principal and the support of many contributors along the way. Before implementing The Leader in Me into Glenn Marshall principal Abby White said 90% of her time was spent disciplining her students. Now that the program is in place that percentage has essentially vanished completely.

Glenn Marshall Elementary school has shown us proven results that The Leader in Me Program is effective. As a community we need to start asking ourselves if we are going to ignore these results or take action. And as a chamber we believe now is our time to pose two questions to our county. The first being, “What can implementing The Leader In Me Program into the Madison County School system do for our community?” and the second, “What can our community do to help implement The Leader in Me Program into our Madison County Schools?"