Principal who pioneered The Leader in Me school program to speak at Educators Summit in Lafayette _lowres

Muriel Summers

The United Way of Acadiana Educators Summit on Oct. 20 will feature Muriel Summers, a principal who pioneered the use of author Franklin Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” into a leadership development program for schools.

The event begins at 9 a.m. in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Student Union Ballroom.

Summers used Covey’s book as a foundation for the Leader in Me program, which teaches critical leadership skills.

The United Way of Acadiana has helped 29 local schools implement the program, and the organization’s goal is by 2019 to bring the Leader in Me to 90 percent of area schools that request it.

Since 2009, more than 16,500 elementary and middle school students in Lafayette, Acadia, Vermilion and St. Martin parishes have been through the Leader in Me program.

Since implementing the model, Summers’ school — A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina — has received several awards, including the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, the National Title I Distinguished School, National Elementary School of the Year, the North Carolina Honor School of Excellence, the North Carolina Governor’s Entrepreneurial Award and the National School of Character Award.

The summit in Lafayette also features a panel discussion with students that will be facilitated by Kim Cummins, principal of Martin Petijean Elementary, which was recently named a National Blue Ribbon School.

“The summit gives the community an opportunity to come together to celebrate the Leader in Me schools’ accomplishments and learn more about the role this model has played in helping more local children succeed in school,” Margaret Trahan, United Way of Acadiana president and CEO, said in a news release.

“Our communities have told us time and again how important education is to their aspirations,” Trahan added. “The Leader in Me is inspiring positive results academically, behaviorally and beyond the classroom.”

The results are being tracked by the Picard Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Preliminary results of a 2014 study indicate a rise in attendance as much as 96 percent and a decrease in absences by 26 percent, according to information provided by the United Way of Acadiana. The study also shows a decrease in disciplinary referrals by as much as 49 percent and improvements in performance of fourth-graders on state standardized tests.

Tickets for the summit are $20. To RSVP or for more information, visit unitedwayofacadiana.org or call (377) 233-8302, extension 237.