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Cover Story

68th Annual Damboree, "Lighting the Way"
Andrew J. Mitchell Elementary School
by Patty Sullivan

The Damboree Committee is proud to announce Andrew J. Mitchell Elementary School as this year’s grand marshal with the theme “Lighting the Way” which represents the school’s Lighthouse School status in the Steven Covey program The Leader in Me.

During his first year as principal at Mitchell Elementary School, Principal Ben Day read a book by Stephen R. Covey called The Leader in Me that described a cultural transformation that was starting to take place in schools across the country and throughout the world. The schools described in the book embraced the philosophy that every child has the ability to become a leader. To meet this goal, schools were teaching students Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that many professional organizations train their employees in. Day felt that The Leader in Me was different from any other program that he had ever heard of, and shortly after reading the book, he invited teachers at Mitchell to participate in a voluntary book study in order to learn more about this unique program.

As teachers learned more about The Leader in Me, they felt that this was a program worth implementing. The school made the decision to receive training on The Leader in Me in August of 2011 so that they would be ready to implement the program for the 2011-2012 school year. Teachers, support staff, and parents trained on The Leader in Me as they felt it would make a positive difference at Mitchell. Shortly thereafter, Mitchell changed its mission statement to reflect the new philosophy of developing every child into a leader by teaching students The Seven Habits. In the beginning, the changes to the culture at Mitchell were small and insignificant because changing a culture does not happen overnight. Still, the Mitchell staff stayed committed to making small, incremental, and systematic changes that would eventually lead to a positive cultural transformation. Over time, the change in culture was noticeable to the families and staff at Mitchell.

A representative from FranklinCovey’s The Leader in Me visited Mitchell Elementary School in 2014. After the visit, the representative suggested that Mitchell be recommended as a “Lighthouse School.” FranklinCovey recognizes approximately five percent of Leader in Me schools as Lighthouse Schools for developing a culture of leadership through the use of the Seven Habits at the highest possible level. In order to become a Lighthouse School, Mitchell would receive visits and reviews over the course of several months from various coaches and representatives from FranklinCovey to determine whether all students, teachers, and families truly had developed a culture at Mitchell in which every child believed he or she is a leader. Mitchell Elementary School was named the 113th Lighthouse School in the world and the first in Nevada in February, 2015.

Since being named a Lighthouse School over a year ago, Mitchell Elementary School has received many visitors and school district officials to see the cultural transformation that has taken place. In the past year, dozens of schools in Clark County have made the decision to begin implementing The Leader in Me process because of the success that Mitchell has seen with this program. Now in its fifth year as a Leader in Me school, Mitchell takes pride in the fact that all of the students can not only name the Seven Habits, but they understand the principles associated with the Habits and know how to apply them in their lives. Students at Mitchell know how to proactively lead their own lives, take responsibility for their actions, set goals, and prioritize the various aspects of their lives in order to be successful. They also “think win-win” and “synergize” with their peers in order to produce greater results than if they chose to work in isolation. During a time in which people in society are increasingly blaming others for their problems and failures, Mitchell students are developing the attitude that, despite the obstacles that life places before them, they will succeed now and in the future because leadership isn’t a position, it’s a choice, and by making the right choices based on principles of effectiveness, anyone who chooses to succeed will do so.

For more information about The Leader in Me visit

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