To celebrate February being the month of love, students at Owens Elementary School rallied together to show a little love to homeless pets in the community. Students and teachers spent the month collecting more than 100 bags of pet food, cleaning supplies, and blankets for Nicholas Pet Haven in Tyler.
“We are so thankful for the donations from Owens Elementary,” Nicholas Pet Haven employee, Lora Waggoner, said. “The recent cold weather had us scrambling for supplies and space to accommodate more animals, so these donations took a lot of stress off our shoulders.”
Fifth-grade student council members came up with the project they named “Hearts for Haven” after brainstorming various service project ideas. Council president, Callie Maxwell, says they decided to collect items for pets after hearing that donations to pet organizations are currently down due to the pandemic.
“We started by thinking about things we can do to give to people who don’t have as much as we do,” Callie said. “We wanted to give to a pet shelter because sometimes smaller shelters like Nicholas do not have as much as the bigger shelters.”
Although the donation drive was a success, Principal Rachel Sherman says it’s the leadership lessons students learn throughout the whole process that are important.
“What makes this project so exciting is that it was totally student-oriented,” Sherman said. “And what most impressed me was how professionally written Callie’s initial emails to me were that laid out the project from start to finish.”
Callie and her team contacted the shelter to find out what items they needed most. Then, to encourage students and staff to donate, they developed an advertising plan that included a graphic for the school newsletter and text for the morning announcements. Each day, council members visited classrooms to collect any items brought in. The team was also proactive in scheduling a few parents to deliver the donations to the shelter.
“To me, this is the true meaning of education; to teach students how to identify problems in their community, come up with solutions to these problems, and then organize and delegate responsibilities to see the project through.”
Leadership opportunities are ingrained into the Owens Elementary culture as part of the Leader in Me national leadership development program. Tyler ISD utilizes the Leader in Me program at all of its elementary campuses to teach students that anyone can be a leader by intentionally taking responsibility for their own learning and working well and encouraging others. The program incorporates the framework of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by author Steven Covey. After seeing such high levels of success in its elementary schools, Tyler ISD Trustees approved earlier this year to expand the program into its middle schools.
“Creating leaders among our students is so very important,” Sherman added. “Together, our staff and students all learn to Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood, Synergize, and Sharpen the Saw. By practicing all of the habits, we are better able to accomplish our goals.”
For more information, please contact Jennifer Hines at 903-262-1064.