In the Bellmore School District, the distinction of being named a Lighthouse District by the national consulting organization Franklincovey amounts to more than just a title — it’s a way of life for students.
Franklincovey gives the distinction to schools that excel using its whole-school transformation model, which pushes students to learn leadership qualities and self-confidence from kindergarten onward. Bellmore is one of just two districts in the country to have all of their schools given Lighthouse status.
“We really adapted their program and did our own,” Superintendent Dr. Joseph Famularo said of the district’s interpretation of the model, called Bellmore Stars. “Franklincovey spent several days looking at what we do here, and they gave us this honor . . . It’s just a great recognition of what we do around the area of leadership.”
Students are not only taught how to set goals and follow through, manage conflicts and take responsibility for their own actions — “We live it,” Famularo added.
The school and Bellmore Stars programs are modeled after the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Franklincovey founder Stephen Covey.
Visitors to schools in the district can quickly see the model in action, when they are greeted and given a tour by student guides. Fourth-graders Daniel and Allison showed the Herald around recently. The two promptly took the reins from Famularo and Principal Sally Curto, bubbling over with enthusiasm as they explained how they apply the principles they learn as part of the Stars program.
A big part of the program, Allison explained, is learning to take responsibility for your own actions — and letting others be responsible for theirs.
“You’re the only one in charge of yourself,” she said. “I can only tell you things. You have the right to ignore me or to listen.”
The two student guides also explained the concept of the “pause button.”
“It’s not an actual button,” said Daniel. “It’s in your mind. You pause before you act and see if it might hurt someone else’s feelings.”
“The kids do everything here,” Famularo said. From “greeter leaders,” who “put a smile on visitors’ faces” as soon as they enter the school, to “hallway leaders,” who make sure that noise levels are kept down in the halls while classes are in session — everything students do serves to expand their self-confidence and ability to lead.
At one point, Daniel jumped in to demonstrate his understanding of time management.
“When you’re learning things, you feel good,” he said. “That’s because you’re using your time wisely.”
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Joanne Dacek said that district officials all agree that a comprehensive education includes character-building and good citizenship, as well as academics.
The shared values included in the Bellmore Stars program, she said, are now deeply ingrained in every aspect of school life and culture.
“By integrating leadership principles and language in our schools, we have built a collaborative culture which empowers students to take on meaningful leadership roles and responsibilities on a daily basis,” Dacek said. “This is a great honor for the district and a wonderful recognition for the entire Bellmore community, especially our Bellmore Stars students.”