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MADISON, Ala. – Horizon Elementary School celebrated a milestone on Thursday. After adopting the Leader in Me program in 2012, they were awarded the Lighthouse Award. There are only 370 Lighthouse Schools around the world.

The Leader in Me is a holistic approach to transforming the school. It teaches children leadership skills and empowers them through the idea that every child should be a leader. Those at Horizon Elementary, students and teachers, said it works.

“When they learn more about the seven habits, they change and they get nicer,” Student Mason Button said.

All students and teachers adopt the mindset called the “Leader in Me.” First Grade Teacher Pam Weaver said it starts when the teacher walks in the doors at Horizon their very first day.

“We start with our environment, we make sure it sounds like Leader in Me, we make sure it feels like Leader in Me,” Weaver explained.

It’s based on seven habits of happy children. One of Student Simon Adkins’ favorites is habit six.

“Habit six: synergize,” Adkins’ said of his preference. “Because it means to work together and I’ve seen a lot of improvement with me working together.

Second-grader Tatum Johnson is working on “sharpening the saw” which encourages body care.

“A WIG is a wildly important goal,” Johnson explained. “My personal WIG is to eat healthier.”

The program led CJ Gross to self-reflect.

“My favorite habit is “seek first to understand then to be understood,” Gross said. “This means you need to listen before you speak. I mainly need work on this habit because I talk a lot in class.”

Principal Rodney Richardson said the “Lighthouse Award” they received on Thursday means a lot. But, it’s the personal victories that mean the most to him.

“The Leader in Me” has changed our school tremendously from the kids coming into the door to our faculty and staff,” Robertson said.

The students found out about the award on Thursday during an assembly where they performed for their teachers.