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Leadership Lessons



PYMS Leadership Program


This year at PYMS we have adjusted our character education component of our middle school program.  This year, for the first ten minutes of each day, all students participate in a Leadership Lesson.  The lessons are led by PYMS instructional staff members.  We believe the daily conversations will have a lasting and positive impact on our students.  The students watch videos, read excerpts from texts, discuss quotes and take part in other tasks.  We hope you ask your child to share his/her learning from the Leadership Lessons with you. 



Week #35                                        Be Thankful/The Finish Line


We began our week by reflecting on what we are thankful for.  We watched a video clip featuring Alicia Keys. We are thankful for the Yates County Council of Churches who have provided our school family with Grandma’s Kitchen for the last two months. We wrote thank you cards to express our gratitude.  

We are in our final weeks of the school year!  Although we are all ready for summer, we discussed how important it is to “Finish Strong”.  We discussed what we can do to finish strong this school year.





Week #34               The Whole Story


This week we talked about knowing the whole story before we react to a situation.  We focused on the quote “Recognize that every interaction you have is an opportunity to make positive impact on others.”  We came up with a plan to be mindful, look for basic goodness, think “just like me”, and give the person the benefit of the doubt.





Week #33                                               Positivity


This week we tried to put a positive spin on each day!  We talked about how we deal with a “Moody Monday”, what we think should be trending on “Trending Tuesday” and picked a peer to write a positive note to on “We Got This Wednesday”.  Our short week ended by watching a short video about Memorial Day.






Week #32                                      Positive Leadership


Our week started with the short film “The Bullying Experiment”.  We spent time talking about the bystanders and how they reacted to the bullying situations.  The students talked about the statement “see something, say something” and how sometimes it is hard to put this into action.







Week #31                                           Celebrate Together!  


We recently received the “School Library of the Year” award.  This award is presented each year by the Rochester Regional Library Council.  Over 200 school libraries and we won! What do you love about our School Library? Students’ ideas  were captured on posters that were hung throughout the school. We discussed the importance of reading and had time to read each morning.  

Week #30                                                 212 Degrees


“212 Perseverance is not the long race.  It is many short races, one after another.”

We discussed this quote and how it can apply to our lives.  Just pushing a little bit more can make a big difference in the end result!



Week #29                                NJHS- Student Leadership Week


This week we learned about the PYMS chapter of the National Junior Honor Society.  The current officers were introduced to the student body, and discussed the Scholarship pillar.  The remaining days of the week, the pillars of Leadership, Citizenship, Service and Character were explained.




Week #28                             Effort = Success/ Be A Friend/ Be Kind


This week we continued our focus on the 1% rule.  We also discussed friendship and what makes someone a good friend.  We discussed the following quotes:

“Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible”

“Kindness is free.  Sprinkle that stuff everywhere”






Week #27                          Pursuing Excellence- Be Proud


As we enter the ELA state tests, students were given time to think of “their word” to assist in persevering and pursuing excellence this week.  Students wrote their word in their agenda so they could self reflect on how well they were sticking to their word. We also discussed the 1% rule--- “if you can push yourself to give just one percent more during each practice, each game, each class, each homework assignment and each project, over time, you will see big results.




Week #26                                   Perseverance→ Pursuing Excellence


This week we continued discussing perseverance, and wrote our own definition of perseverance.  We posted our definitions in our lockers to be a daily reminder. We learned about many people who turned their failures into success.  

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better” -- Pat Riley







Week #25                                             Perseverance   


This week we discussed perseverance.  We watched a video about an Olympic athlete who showed perseverance.  We discussed that perseverance is doing something despite difficulty. We talked about how we can push forward when things get difficult.  






Week #24                             Growth Mindset/ Student Reflection


This week we continued talking about having a growth mindset.  Every student completed a reflection, where they rated themselves in the areas of Time Management, Participation, Self-Direction, Commitment, and Citizenship.  At the end of the reflection process, the students determined some points of pride (strengths) and some areas of improvement.




Week #23                                                  Fail Forward


Be the First Penguin is based on the idea that there has to be the first penguin to dive into the water even though there may be predators waiting,   We encourage out-of-the-box thinking and creativity, being brave, even if it means you might fail. Take risks and learn from them. We also started talking about having a growth mindset.





Week #22                                              The Essential 55


The Essential 55 was developed by a man named Ron Clark.  Ron Clark is a middle school teacher. He was received the Disney Teacher of the Year award and started his own school called the Ron Clark Academy.  While teaching in Harlem, New York, Mr. Clark realized there were simple, basic skills that his students needed to be successful in life.

He has since written a book about these basic skills he continues to teach his students; it is called The Essential 55.  This week we are going to address a few of these skills that can help you be successful in life.  

Make Eye Contact

Respect other’s comments

Subtle body language and gestures

Always say thank you


Week #21                            Maintaining a Positive Attitude


Over the last two weeks, we have been talking about the importance of having a positive mindset.  Sometimes it can be difficult to maintain positivity. This week we are going to talk about a few strategies you can use to help you maintain a positive outlook.  

The “but…” strategy- This simple strategy help you turn your complaints into positive thoughts, solutions and actions.  When you realize you are complaining or feeling negative, you simply add the word “but” and then add a positive thought or positive action.

The “I get to…” strategy- Many times, we focus on what we have to do.  We say things like, “I have to go to work.” or “I have to go to school.” “I have to do this or I have to do that.”  Instead, shift your perspective by realizing you get to do things. You get to go to work when others are unemployed.






Week #20 Feed the Positive Dog


Students discussed what they think it means to “Feed the Positive Dog”  before watching a Jon Gordon video. We discussed ways we can maintain a positive mindset and continue to be optimistic about our day.  We created posters that give 5 ways to Feed the Positive Dog and posted them in our school.




Week #19 Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships


This week we discussed the importance of healthy relationships.  We participated in several activities that allowed students to look at some the their relationships and decide if the are healthy.


Healthy relationship quiz:







Week #18 Life Lessons


This week we watched a Pixar video which gave us key ideas to help support our goals.

Laughter is stronger than fear

We are the master’s of our own destiny

You’re never too old to play with toys

When we work together, we can’t be stopped

There’s always hope

The best relationships are based on trust

Family makes us stronger

It’s not always the destination but the journey that counts

The best jobs are done by a team




Week #17       Resolutions


Our goal for this week it to hit the reset button.  We talked about the expectations that we set in September.  We reviewed the expectations and talked about making a resolution to reset.  Ask your child to show you their agenda. Each student wrote their resolution in their agenda.

Week #16      Giving Back/Spreading Kindness


This week we continued to discuss how we can give back and pay it forward.  At the week of the week we presented a check to the Humane Society with the money raised from the penny war.






Week #15                                    Giving Back


Our penny war is in progress!  We talked about how we think the Humane Society will feel when the receive the money from our Penny War.  We watched a Kid President Video on unexpected acts of kindness. After brainstorming about people who we could spread holiday cheer to, we created postcards to spread some cheer.




Week #14                           Finding the Good In Others


Our penny war has started!  This week we focused on finding the good in others.  Think about these four ways to see the good in others:

      • Don’t compare yourself to others(Everyone is unique and if you're looking for someone to be just like you or someone else, you're going to have a difficult time finding the good in that individual and appreciating who s/he is.  We all have strengths and talents to offer which support a team approach)
      • Focus on the present(Dwelling on what someone has done in the past can make it difficult to focus on who they are now. This doesn't mean you should forget what someone has done, but if someone has made positive changes, pay attention to how they learned from past behavior and how they act now.  We all make mistakes. It’s what we learn from them that matters)
      • Cultivate curiosity(If you want to see the good in others, become interested in them.  Instead of guessing what someone else is thinking or feeling, listen and ask questions.  The more you know about others the easier it is to connect with them and notice their positive aspects.)
  • Assume positive intentions(Imagine that the people you cross paths with each and every day are looking out for your best interest.  This is difficult to do when a person’s action or something they say is frustrating to you. The more you focus on how people might be looking out for you, the easier it becomes to find the good in them)

Week #13                           Citizenship and Service, How do you give back?


To kick off our school wide community service project, we talked about what service is and what it means to give back.  We watched a Kid President video about giving back and learned about the Humane Society of Yates County be completing a WebQuest.  Next week we will have a penny war to raise funds for the Humane Society of Yates County.



Week #12 Celebrating Academic Success/ Be Thankful


With Thanksgiving this week, we talked about being Thankful.  We watched a Kid President video on being thankful. We also celebrated our students who made honor roll and introduced the new inductees to National Junior Honor Society.




Week #11 Making A Difference


This week we talked about how we can make a difference in our school and community.  We talked about

    • “What can you do to create a culture of kindness?”
    • “What can you do to combat bullying?”
    • “What can you do to end drama?”

Students were given this challenge- “The next time a situation arises, how can you be the change agent to make things better?”




Week #10                           Veterans Day: Courage and Pride


This week we discussed courage.  We decided courage is the ability to face fears with determination. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and the NYC Firefighters are some individuals who are courageous.  Veterans are also very courageous! We watched two videos about Veterans Day and learned about this special day.







Week #9                                    A Culture of Kindness


This week we discussed that Kindness is Contagious.  The talked about how when people benefit from kindness, they pay it forward.  



Researchers at the University of California at San Diego and Harvard University provided the first laboratory evidence that cooperative behavior is contagious and that it spreads from person to person.  When people benefit from kindness, they “pay it forward” by helping others who were not originally involved and this creates a cascade of cooperation that influences dozens more.

You are the leaders, innovators, teachers and parents of the future.  What you do matters. Creating the kind of school - and the kind of world- that you want starts right here, right now.  


Video Clip from Wonder: When Given the Choice Between Being Right and Being Kind, Choose Kind




Week #8 Red Ribbon Week


This week we learned about why we honor Red Ribbon Week.  We watched a video that explained the history of Red Ribbon Week.  We talked about ways to stay drug free and pledged to celebrate our greatness and stay drug free.  Students were given the “Stop Drug Abuse” Contest sheets.


History of Red Ribbon Week Video



Ways to Stay Drug Free




Week #7            What Makes an Awesome Leader?


This week we continued to discuss the characteristics of an awesome leader.  We watched a Kid President video and read an excerpt from The Hard Hat, by Jon Gordon.  By the end of the week, every student was able to give an example of how they lead.


Kid President Video:




Week #6                            School Leadership/ What Makes a Leader?


We started this week by hearing from the students who were running for Student Council offices.  We then discussed what makes a good leader and voted for Student Council officers and representatives.  We spend the rest of the week discussing the characteristics of good leaders.



Week #5               Collective Positive Energy/ Kindness Counts/ Dare to be Different


This week we talked about the words that we feel describe being a Leader.  Some of the words we came up with were Empathy, Brave, Helpful, Kindness and Caring.  We looked at quotes about Kindness and watched a video about being different.






Week #4                     I Am the Driver of My Bus

This week we discussed how the students are the driver of their bus.  In other words they are responsible for their future.  We talked about what a vision statement is, and decided “A vision statement is a commitment you make to yourself.  Vision gives you the ability to see yourself already reaching your goal and empowers you to achieve it.” We read several vision statements and each student worked to begin creating their own vision statement.



Week #3                 Positive Energy Fuels Positive Outcomes

This week we discussed being positive.  We learned that when you think positively, communicate positively and have positive interactions, you produce positive outcomes.





Week # 2                Remembering 9/11/Empathy

This week we provided students the opportunity to share their knowledge of 9/11 and learned about empathy.




Week #1                 “You Are Amazing”/”Kindness Matters”

This week we introduced our leadership program to the students and discuss how every person in amazing in their own way.  We also discussed how small acts of kindness can make a big difference.

Video Clips for the week:

Kid President- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bIdndOq6dA

“A Life Lesson From A Firefighter” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bIdndOq6dA