The North Bend Eagle


Grant helping NBC students learn effective habits

by Nathan Arneal
Published 11/2/11

North Bend Central students in Aaron Sterup’s English classes have been learning more than just reading and ‘riting recently.

In between the normal vocabulary, poetry and grammar lessons, his eighth and ninth graders have been studying the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.

The books were bought with a grant from the Kay Eveland memorial fund through the North Bend Central Foundation. Superintendent Dan Endorf said that the Sterup’s proposal to buy The 7 Habits books was selected to receive the first Eveland grant. The grant is for innovative teacher projects that are integrated in the classroom.

“It has been a neat deal,” Endorf said. “The Eveland grant has been a nice addition to the many good things the Foundation already supports.”
Sterup said he hopes the lessons in the book will not only create better students, but better people.

“What we noticed as teachers is that we can work on the curriculum stuff all we want, but there’s still a gap there and we’re trying to figure out what that is,” Sterup said. “In my personal opinion it comes from character. Until the kids learn the proper ways to do things, why they’re studying, why it’s important to get good grades and be a good citizen, they’re not going to put much effort into it. We’re hoping this will provide the ‘why’ to go along with the other stuff.”

The seven habits featured in the book are: 1. Be proactive; 2. Begin with the end in mind, 3. Put first things first, 4. Think win-win; 5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood, 6. Synergize– work together to achieve more, 7. Sharpen the saw, renew yourself regularly.

Sterup’s classes are mixing in a few chapters of the book periodically with the normal English curriculum. So far, the students have read the first three or four chapters and have worked on goal setting, writing a personal mission statement of their beliefs and having discussions on what it means to be a good person.

“You can’t just be spontaneous all the time,” eighth grader Ashley Ortmeier said. “You need to plan a lot of things if you want to achieve your goals.”

The purpose, Sterup said, is to teach good habits to students as they make the transition into high school, where their actions will have a long-lasting effect on their lives.

“The kids don’t often realize until it’s too late how important grades and those things can be,” Sterup said. “Then they get to be seniors and they’re looking for scholarships and their GPA is really low because of things they did when they were freshmen. We’re trying to instill a little earlier how important it is not to waste the opportunities they have when they’re freshmen.”

The message is hitting home, according to some of the students themselves.

“You should start focusing on the future (early),” eighth grader Sabrina Adams said. “When you’re older and you’ve been slacking off the whole time, you don’t know what you’re going to do.”

While the effects of trying to instill the seven habits won’t be fully seen for a few years, the early returns have been good. Sterup said he thinks his students are taking it seriously from what he’s heard in discussions, and parents told him during parent-teacher conferences that their children have discussed the book at home. He also hopes some of the habits will be seen start showing up sooner rather than later.

“We have an epidemic of kids just not doing work, not turning stuff in,” he said. “We’re hoping that showing them the importance of those things will lead to fewer missed assignments, and just more personal accountability and not always pointing the finger at somebody else, which we see a lot.”

Freshman Casi Wirka said the book has taught her to seize the day.

“There seems like there’s a lot of time in the world, but there’s not,” she said. “We are in high school, the most important four years of our lives. It is the time to make the right decisions and determine what we want our future to look like. (The book) taught me that time is wasting, so there’s no time for doing the wrong things.”

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