Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
To help create a sense of academics, culture and leadership in the school, MacArthur Elementary School teachers created collaborative paintings Oct. 3 to display in their classrooms.
The idea for the project came about when MacArthur Principal Tyler Fowler read the book “The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World” by Jon Gordon.
“(The book) suggested the idea that you choose a word to focus on during a school year,” Fowler said. “I thought we could use this idea and create paintings that teachers could hang in their classrooms.”
The word to focus on: “why.”
“Start with the end in mind. Why are you here? Why do you teach?” Gretchen Martens, MacArthur art teacher, asked before the painting began. “You want people to be able to see it, read it and comprehend it, whatever you think it is.”
To begin, Martens led the teachers through a series of steps as they rotated around the table and put their own touches on each canvas.
Then, once teachers returned to their original spot, they filled in the rest of the canvas with their own designs. Once the paintings dried, the teachers put in their own answers to the “why” question.
While the project was a team building activity for the teachers, it was also part of the effort of the Leader in Me program.
“The Leader in Me program emphasizes synergy, which is creating something bigger than yourself,” said Megan Adams, MacArthur sixth-grade teacher. “In this activity, we rely on each other to complete the full project.”
To further guide the Leader in Me program, the Light House team was established in August 2017, which is led by Martens, Adams and Kim Goll, MacArthur fourth-grade teacher. The core focuses of the Light House team are academics, culture and leadership within the school.
Goll said the paintings will directly contribute to the emphasis on academics.
“If the students believe in themselves and they know our reasons why we teach, it helps to build relationships with students,” she said. “Students who feel supported and appreciated go above and beyond what is expected socially and academically.”
Adams said culture is shown through the positive environment that is established during the project.
“If our group and our team of teachers isn’t feeling like they’re valued or like their voice isn’t being heard, then they’re going to shut down within the school, which does affect the students later on, too,” Adams said. “So, we want them to feel like they’re important and they are valued so then they can bring that into their classroom, too.”
In the aspect of leadership, it is about reiterating to the students that everyone is a leader and should work together, Goll said.
“Working together creates a better outcome than if you only had yourself to rely upon,” she said. “We have to believe that we are all in this together and that we all have the same goal, for our students to be successful.”
“(Author) Stephen Covey states that, ‘Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves,’” Adams said. “As we display these for the students to see, we are hoping to communicate their worth and their potential.”