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Dana children teach local leaders a thing or two

Marcos Delago-Garrido Jr. describes one of the 7 Habits that guide Dana children. Marcos Delago-Garrido Jr. describes one of the 7 Habits that guide Dana children.

DANA — Business owners, bankers, non-profit organization executives, company CEOs and county commissioners came to Dana Elementary School Friday morning and learned that 5-year-olds could teach them a lot about good habits.

The Dana school has an enrollment of 526 children in K-5 — 44 percent minority, 33 percent "less than English proficient," 10 percent exceptional and 80 percent needy — and a case full of trophies for academic gains in the past five years.


Each student is treated exactly alike, principal Kelly Schofield told the community leaders, and each one is expected to achieve. "Every Child Now — No Excuses" is the motto that drives the school's extraordinary test-score improvement.
From 2008 to 2012, Hispanic students have risen from 20 percent reading proficiency to 80 percent; less than English proficient, 15 to 75 percent; exceptional students, 52 to 65; white students, 61 to 85 percent; and needy students, 47 to 80 percent.
In 2012 the National Title 1 Association named Dana a Distinguished School for sustained student achievement. The same year the school was a finalist for a national Intel award for gains in math proficiency. And it won recognition as an NC Reward School, the highest level in the state program that measures gains. Schofield was the 2012-13 Wells Fargo principal of the year in Henderson County.
The first thing the community leaders noticed Friday morning was that the greeters, ushers, registration table workers and door openers were all Dana School children, and that they all said good morning. The school administration and teachers handed the responsibility for many jobs to the students.
The Dana Elementary School Leadership Summit was designed, Schofield said, to tell the Dana story and let the public know that public schools can work.

After an opening program in the gym, the local leaders were invited to presentations on the Dana Top 10, What makes Dana special?; Goal Setting and Data Notebooks, how students in grades K-5 monitor and record data on personal and academic goals; the 7 Habits Overview, how Dana uses "The 7 Habits of Happy Kids" to shape character, build camaraderie, teach tolerance and complete work with discipline and quality. Anyone at the summit was welcome, too, to wander into classrooms and see "students and teachers showcase their learning."
The 7 Habits?
1. Be Proactive: be in charge of yourself, take responsibility, take the initiative.
2. Begin with the end in mind: set goals.
3. Put first things first: If you play first you won't get the important things done.
4. Think win win: compromise to work out problems.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood: listen to other people's point of view.
6. Synergize: work together and get along even with those who are different from us.
7. Sharpen the saw: keep your life balanced.
Guidance counselor Tracie Hart that each classroom sets aside a 10-minute Wildcat Team Time at the beginning of the day to solve problems, set goals and strengthen the team.
"It's really powerful," she said. "It's really good to see the communications skills they develop and how they take responsibility for the classroom."