TWIN FALLS — She may be in charge of Idaho’s public schools, but Thursday, Sherri Ybarra got a lesson from a first-grader.
Harrison Elementary School student Alexii Christman was surrounded by LEGO pieces in the school library as he made a toy truck.
Kneeling down next to him, Ybarra — state superintendent of public instruction — asked how he put it together.
After the Twin Falls boy gave an explanation, he promised to teach Ybarra how to make her own.
Ybarra and Tim McMurtrey, chief performance officer for the Idaho Department of Education, toured Harrison Elementary during the school’s “sharpen the paw day.”
Once a quarter, students participate in activities including yoga and making play dough as part of the school’s “The Leader in Me” initiative. It exposes children to different enrichment activities they may not experience anywhere else.
On Thursday, Ybarra was already in Twin Falls for a career and technical education leadership class at the College of Southern Idaho.
Harrison Elementary has used “The Leader in Me” initiative for at least five years.
This school year, the model expanded to two more Twin Falls schools — I.B. Perrine and Lincoln elementary schools — and Canyon Ridge High School is piloting it.
“The Leader in Me” incorporates Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Students are encouraged to develop character traits like responsibility and teamwork.
On Thursday at Harrison Elementary, fifth-graders Chererene Bimenyimana, Julianna Warner and Jose Garcia gave state education officials a tour of the school.
It was particularly interesting for McMurtrey, who began his education career at Harrison Elementary.
Starting 37 years ago, he taught sixth-grade at Harrison for two years and at Morningside Elementary School for one year.
Promoting leadership is a good thing for schools, McMurtrey said, but added adopting an initiative such as “The Leader in Me” is a decision left up to local schools.
“This is awesome to walk around and see all this,” he said.
During the tour, Chererene pointed out banners near the front office of colleges Harrison Elementary teachers attended.
Julianna showed Ybarra a timeline nearby of how many pages Harrison students have read so far this school year.
Husky dog paper cutouts — a nod to the school’s mascot — show the progress: about halfway to the 1 million goal.
In one classroom, students were doing Zumba and singing along to the Pitbull song, “Feel This Moment.” Other activities throughout the school included yoga, drawing and 1980s board games.