Feature Stories

Community Leadership Day highlights ‘Leader in Me’

Diane Troderman with students from LYA.

Diane Troderman with students from LYA.

By Stacey Dresner | Photos by Bert Krasner

SPRINGFIELD – Local philanthropist Diane Troderman had a vision three years ago when she brought the “Leader in Me” program to Heritage Academy, Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy, and the Springfield Jewish Community Center Early Center.
Her vision was that through the Leader in Me program, which uses the principles, practices, and habits of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the students in the three schools – in a community effort – would take the values learned through the program into their homes and then on with them out into the world.
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, Troderman saw her vision come true during Community Leadership Day, an event that brought together members of the Springfield community to see how “Leader in Me” has transformed the three schools.
“This is absolutely what I envisioned…doing this as a community because it takes a village to raise a child,” Troderman said. “I never thought it would happen so fast. This is so incredible and inspiring.”

Students at Heritage Academy.

Students at Heritage Academy.

On hand for the event were community leaders such as Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Longmeadow Police Chief Robert Siano, Longmeadow School Committee Chairman Michael Clark, and local area Rabbis Max Davis (Congregation B’nai Torah), Amy Katz (Temple Beth El) and Mark Shapiro (Sinai Temple), and Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts President Susan Weiss Firestone.
The morning began with breakfast at the JCC, where community members were welcomed by Deb Cohen, director of the JCC Early Learning Center and entertained by children from the preschool, who sang songs like “Make a Plan” and “Be Proactive”, written by Jonathan Keezing.
Meredith Dragon thanked Diane Troderman for her generosity in funding the program and recognized the students and community leaders who supported this day.
“Everyone embraced this program because they knew it was something special for our students, for our teachers and also for our community…it has made an incredible difference for our schools for our children from the youngest to the oldest,” Dragon said.
At 9 a.m., two yellow school buses took the entire group to Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy, where students from kindergarten to the middle school shared how the Leader in Me program is working in their school.
Students from Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy.

Students from Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy.

Participants were led into the LYA auditorium for a series of presentations by students of each grade. Leadership presentations included various topics, such as Legos, Biblical, Literature, History, Reading, Science, and News. Following the LYA leadership presentations, students handed out homemade cookies with leadership quotes attached before participants boarded the buses to Heritage Academy.
“This event went beyond my expectations,” said Rabbi Noach Kosofsky, principal of LYA. “The students in all the schools really were a good reflection on the schools. It was really amazing that we all worked together and that the students took their leadership role very seriously.”
Upon arrival at Heritage, participants were divided into groups for student-led tours of each classroom to hear student presentations about famous leaders of the past and present. Each classroom had students greet, prepare, and present their class project for Leadership Day. After the classroom presentations, everyone assembled in the auditorium for “The 7 Habits Song” performed by the kindergarten to grade 5 choir, a farewell by the student principal and president and a thank you treat.
Leaders in the Jewish community at Community Leadership Day.

Leaders in the Jewish community at Community Leadership Day.

“Community Leadership Day was just that, a day to celebrate both community and leadership,” said Lauren Life, Lead Administrator of Heritage Academy. “The children displayed their community spirit and leadership skills brilliantly!”
“Our community shined on Leadership Day,” Dragon concluded. “I am confident we are in great hands for years to come after experiencing all that our students did to make Community Leadership Day a smashing success.”

This event was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts in collaboration with the Springfield JCC, LYA and Heritage Academy.

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