By Lora Scripps
More than 600 educators as well as government, business and community leaders from across the country made up a sold-out crowd that assembled in Athens Thursday for a two-day symposium.
Franklin Covey’s The Leader In Me Symposium, taking place at Athens State University, is an educational program aimed at creating a passion for leadership in education while developing 21st-century leaders in K-12 schools. The Athens event is currently the largest Leader In Me symposium in the country.
“It is becoming a trend that the symposium reaches maximum capacity early,” said Charlotte Feigley, associate director of the Regional In-service Center. “As more and more educators become aware of the importance of leadership skills, this symposium becomes quite the hot ticket.”
The Leader In Me, based on the book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, has been credited with producing results such as higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems, and increased engagement among teachers and parents.
Activities during the two-day event include keynote addresses, interactive breakout sessions, networking opportunities, and school visits to elementary and middle schools in Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties implementing the Leader in Me process such as Cowart and Julian Newman elementary schools.
Keynote speakers and special guests for the event include Franklin Covey Senior Consultant Gary McGuey, Ron Clark, founder of the Ron Clark Academy, Leader in Me coach Connley Skeen, Morgan County Superintendent Bill Hopkins and Stanton Elementary in St. Louis Principal Matt Miller.
“Not only will this event greatly benefit those in attendance, it also benefits our community through tourism,” Feigley said. “ I understand the local hotels are booked due to our participants and that is an important factor for any community.”
Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks had the opportunity to attend a portion of the symposium Thursday. “It is just a fantastic program,” Marks said. “It is my understanding we had a record-breaking crowd last year and I’ve heard they had to turn people away again this year. “
Marks said it is great for the city to be able to host the symposium and be a part of Athens State University and Leader In Me. “It’s a fantastic draw for the community,” he said, adding it only adds to Athens’ quality of life.